Across So Many Seas

$17.99 USD

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"As lyrical as it is epic, Across So Many Seas reminds us that while the past may be another country, it's also a living, breathing song of sadness and joy that helps define who we are." --Alan Gratz, New York Times bestselling author of Refugee

Spanning over 500 years, Pura Belpré Award winner Ruth Behar's epic novel tells the stories of four girls from different generations of a Jewish family, many of them forced to leave their country and start a new life.

In 1492, during the Spanish Inquisition, Benvenida and her family are banished from Spain for being Jewish, and must flee the country or be killed. They journey by foot and by sea, eventually settling in Istanbul.

Over four centuries later, in 1923, shortly after the Turkish war of independence, Reina’s father disowns her for a small act of disobedience. He ships her away to live with an aunt in Cuba, to be wed in an arranged marriage when she turns fifteen.

In 1961, Reina’s daughter, Alegra, is proud to be a brigadista, teaching literacy in the countryside for Fidel Castro. But soon Castro’s crackdowns force her to flee to Miami all alone, leaving her parents behind.

Finally, in 2003, Alegra’s daughter, Paloma, is fascinated by all the journeys that had to happen before she could be born. A keeper of memories, she’s thrilled by the opportunity to learn more about her heritage on a family trip to Spain, where she makes a momentous discovery.

Though many years and many seas separate these girls, they are united by a love of music and poetry, a desire to belong and to matter, a passion for learning, and their longing for a home where all are welcome. And each is lucky to stand on the shoulders of their courageous ancestors.

Ruth Behar (, the Pura Belpré Award-winning author of Lucky Broken Girl and Letters from Cuba, was born in Havana, Cuba, grew up in New York, and has also lived in Spain and Mexico. Her work also includes poetry, memoir, and the acclaimed travel books An Island Called Home and Traveling Heavy. She was the first Latina to win a MacArthur "Genius" Grant, and other honors include a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and being named a "Great Immigrant" by the Carnegie Corporation. An anthropology professor at the University of Michigan, she lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

 "Readers will practically be able to smell the marzipan in Ruth Behar's beautiful new historical novel as they follow multiple generations of a Sephardic Jewish family starting from the Spanish Inquisition all the way to Miami, Florida. A layered, lyrical, and moving look at what we carry from our ancestors, not just from the important Sephardic Jewish lens, but for anyone inspired to make meaning out of the past." –Veera Hiranandani, author of Night Diary

 “Four 12-year-old Sephardic Jewish girls in different time periods leave their homelands but carry their religion, culture, language, music, and heritage with them. . . . Woven through all four girls’ stories is the same Ladino song (included with an English translation); as Paloma says, ‘I’m connected to those who came before me through the power of the words we speak, the words we write, the words we sing, the words in which we tell our dreams.’ Behar’s diligent research and personal connection to this history, as described in a moving author’s note, shine through this story of generations of girls who use music and language to survive, tell their stories, and connect with past and future. Powerful and resonant.” —Kirkus Reviewsstarred review

* “Behar (Lucky Broken Girl) delivers a moving tale about four generations of a Sephardic Jewish family navigating cultural and societal upheaval from 1492 to 2003. . . . Divided into four parts, this enlightening read depicts one family’s determination to embrace and preserve her Jewish identity and offers glimpses into the long history of Jews in Spain. Behar crafts each included era with painstaking period detail and lush language, delivering a stunning portrayal of immigration and Jewish culture and religion that expounds upon the importance of remaining true to oneself, explores themes of prejudice and racism, and exposes the harm that bigotry can inflict on both individuals and society. The author includes English translations alongside songs and words in Ladino; concluding source notes add further historical context.” —Publishers Weeklystarred review

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