For twelve-year-old Rosetta Wolfson, the war in Europe seems very far off from her home in Canada. Then Mr. Schwartzberg comes to tea and asks Rosetta's parents if they will take in a young war refugee. Isaac joins the family and becomes a ready-made brother to Rosetta and her two sisters.
Isaac's arrival brings change. Her best friend's handsome brother doesn't seem as attractive after he reveals himself as anti-Semitic, and Rosetta begins to suspect her friend may agree with him. As Rosetta and Isaac become friends and he shares his story with her, she helps him learn the fate of other family members and helps him shape a promising future in his new country.
"In 1942, 12-year-old Rosetta Wolfson lives with her Jewish family in Montreal, far away from the war in
Europe. The Wolfsons take in Isaac Guttman, a young Jewish refugee who fled Germany for Britain, only
to later be deported to Canada. Isaac is guarded and slow to trust, but gradually shares parts of his past
with Rosetta. Polak's novel introduces an often-overlooked facet of the Holocaust: that Britain expelled
German nationals (Nazis as well as Jews and those rescued in the Kindertransport), shipping them to
internment camps in Canada and Australia. Isaac is grateful to have been taken in by the Wolfsons, but
that doesn't prevent him from feeling guilt over the fates of his family members and experiencing anti-
Semitism in Canada. Secondary plots involving Rosetta's efforts at public speaking, and her gradual
realization that her best friend harbors anti-Semitic views, are also well handled. A strong family story;
pair with Lucy Strange's Our Castle By the Sea (2019) for another look at wartime expulsion of Germans."
"Rosetta's life changes when a 16-year-old refugee from the Nazis comes to live with her. A grade six girl in 1942 Montreal, narrator Rosetta has two sisters, but she hadn't expected to gain an older brother. Isaac fled Hitler's Germany on the Kindertransport but was later interned by the British government. Now freed, he's alone in a foreign country. Isaac's entry into Rosetta's family isn't frictionless: Rosetta squabbles with her sisters, she's jealous of Isaac's relationship with her father, and she snoops in his few possessions. But she and Isaac grow close, and what she learns about his past is worrying. Rosetta is from a family of light-skinned observant Jews and is ignorant of religious segregation or persecution. Isaac, with one Jewish parent and one Christian, saw his own mother—a tall, blonde, blue-eyed 'Aryan goddess' who works for the Nazis—repudiate him. Even in theoretically liberal-minded Montreal, Isaac's not free of persecution. Jewish quotas will likely keep him from attending medical school at McGill. Moreover, Rosetta's best friend's brother, a handsome blond non-Jew, says vile anti-Semitic things to Isaac. Italicized, phonetically rendered accents ('So, one afternoon, I vent der') keep Isaac at arm's length even as Rosetta grows closer to him, and there's more than one 'remarkable coincidence' holding the whole together, but readers will respond to how flawed, likable Rosetta learns how to welcome refugees wholeheartedly. As timely as historical fiction can be."--Kirkus Reviews