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The Blood Lie

Booklist
"Vernick’s novel is a scathing indictment of anti-Semitism…it is an important book that reminds us of the imperative need to remember lest we find ourselves repeating the horrors of the past."
- November 15, 2011 
Lauren Myracle, author of Shine
"A powerful—and poignant—reminder that no person can live freely until all people can live freely."
Association of Jewish Libraries
"The evolution of how an anti-Semitic lie spread throughout this community is convincingly portrayed in this story...[and] the troubling issues that the book raises are sure to give readers a sense of the fragility of Jewish-Christian relations and the challenges posed by ignorance. Highly recommended for all libraries."
"A true but little-known incident that occurred in a small upstate New York town in 1928 is the
subject of this historical fiction work for young adults. A blood libel took place in Massena,
New York when a young Christian girl disappeared from her home, and the town’s rabbi was
questioned by police about whether Jews practiced human sacrifice. The author, who grew up
in Massena, heard about the story from her father. Upon investigating, she found that the story
had been covered in The New York Times, when Louis Marshall, President of the American
Jewish Committee, and Dr. Stephen Wise of the American Jewish Congress lodged a strenuous
protest about the blood libel. The absurdity and horror of this 'unspeakable calumny,' in
Marshall’s words, has lingered in the memory of all the Jewish inhabitants of the town and their
descendants.

Vernick has embellished some of the facts of the case to make it more appealing. In the novel,
Jack, the young man accused of the crime, is a bright and talented young Jewish musician
who is infatuated with the missing girl’s older sister. The romantic side story between these
two teens (and the fact that they know theirs is a forbidden relationship) adds more interest for
contemporary readers.

The evolution of how an anti-Semitic lie spread throughout this community is convincingly
portrayed in this story. Vernick displays her knowledge of Judaism in her accurate descriptions
of Jewish rituals and customs. She conveys a fine sense of social history regarding the adaptation
of first generation Jews to American life in the early twentieth century. Jack becomes the hero
who saves the day. However, the troubling issues that the book raises are sure to give readers a
sense of the fragility of Jewish-Christian relations and the challenges posed by ignorance. The
book’s brevity, fairly simple vocabulary, and innocence (the most erotic episode is a brief kiss
at the end) make this novel suitable for middle and high school readers, both Jewish and non-
Jewish. Highly recommended for all libraries."
- September 22, 2011 
Kirkus Reviews
"Effectively mines layers of ignorance, fear, intolerance and manipulation."
"When little Daisy Durham disappears, an innocent Jewish boy is called a murderer.

In upstate New York in 1928, 16-year-old Jack Pool knows there’s no hope for a romance with
beautiful Emaline Durham, Daisy’s older sister. They inhabit different worlds, and the gold
crucifix she wears stands between them 'like an electrified fence, all glittery and metallic.'
Jack is Jewish, and Daisy’s disappearance sparks an ugly episode of prejudice and intolerance
in the little town of Massena. Flames of prejudice are fanned by local bigot Gus Poulos, who
spreads age-old tales of the blood lie and how Daisy was probably sacrificed, her blood used in
mysterious Jewish rituals. But Gus has personal reasons for inflaming passions and involving
the police, and things get out of hand when Jewish-owned businesses are searched, the temple is
raided and someone kills all of the Pool family chickens. Based on an actual incident in Massena
in 1928, the slim novel effectively mines layers of ignorance, fear, intolerance and manipulation,
and it connects the incident to Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic writing and to the lynching of Jewish
businessman Leo Frank in 1915.

A great match with Karen Hesse’s Witness (2001), also set in the 1920s, about a Vermont town
that took a stand against prejudice."
- August 1, 2011 
Publishers Weekly
"...tackles the weighty issue of anti-Semitism with uncompromising clarity."
- November 14, 2011  Visit Website
Midwest Book Review
"The Blood Lie is a riveting and hard to put down novel of small town life and the viciousness that lies in some people."
- December 27, 2011 
Shooting Stars Mag
"...a short story that makes an impact."
"It's hard to imagine that something like this could happen, especially here in the so-called land of the free. The real story and this fictional take might have occured in 1928...but you have to remember that people still do keep these types of stereotypes in their heart.

As for The Blood Lie, it's a pretty short novel that takes place over an even smaller amount of time, but that doesn't mean it's not powerful. Jack is like most kids, with a pretty normal family and friends. He has religion in his life but he isn't the type to shove it in someone's face, especially not being Jewish, where he's the minority. He loves music and hopes that will be his ticket out of his small town and into a bigger, and maybe better, world. And he also has a crush on Emaline, who may like him too, but they can't do anything about it without causing a lot of controversy.

It's hardly fair, the type of town that Jack lives in. And when Daisy goes missing and people point their fingers at Jack and his family, he is - for the first time- truly terrified of what could happen. He knows he's innocent, but these people might not ask questions first, then attack. They might just use crazy rumors and stories about Jewish people as their guide.

One of my favorite parts in the book is when Rabbi Abrams talks to his congregation and tells them a story of hurt, but one also of forgiveness. Jack, understandably, isn't sure if he agrees with this idea...but it's a short story that makes an impact (much like The Blood Lie itself) and readers are sure to get a lot of out of it in terms of Jack's situation and their own lives.

I really liked the ending. Not everything is shiny and happy and new, but it has a silver lining, and you know that maybe things aren't perfect...but they could get better."
- January 1, 2012  Visit Website
Hadassah Magazine
"Vernick has rescued a troubling historical incident and vested it with contemporary relevance."
- December 15, 2011 
The Canadian Jewish News
"The Blood Lie is the first novel of its kind to be published in the United States."
- January 19, 2012 

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