The Next Ship Home

Recorded Books. Feb. 2022. 13:57 hrs. ISBN 9781705060834. $24.99. F
Webb’s (Three Words for Goodbye) novel, which takes place on Ellis Island in 1902, tells the stories of Francesca and Alma. Alma’s German family has not been in the country for long, but Alma is fluent in English as well as German and has easily picked up bits of Russian and Italian. Sent to work by her stepfather, Alma is initially afraid to serve as a translator at the immigration center but she soon adjusts, despite dealing with corruption and the sad stories she witnesses. Francesca’s sister arrives in New York already ill and dies at Ellis Island. Terrified that she will be returned to Italy, Francesca befriends Alma to convince her to help find a way for Francesca to stay in the country. The two young women help each other through difficult times and try to ward off abuse. Both women are treated unfairly, primarily by men but also by other women. Narrator Kathryn Markey does a remarkable job voicing the variety of accents and languages spoken by those who come through Ellis Island.
VERDICT Webb’s historical novel sheds light on an interesting period in American history.
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