The Ghosts of Rose Hill

Title: The Ghosts of Rose Hill

Writer: R.M.Romero

Publishing House: PeachTree Teen

Date of Publication:  May 3rd 2022

Rating: 5 stars

‘’Lopez means:

son of Lope,

son of wolf.

But it’s the Lopez women

who have always howled the loudest.

They had to be fierce

and stubborn

to survive.’’

‘’They fled the pyres

(the flames

fueled by hatred)

devouring

the street corners,

synagogues,

cemeteries

of Spain,

crossing the ocean 

with their faith

and Shabbat candlestick

tucked under their skirts.’’

Ilana leaves Miami for Prague. She is a daughter of refugees from the Czech Republic and Cuba, a girl whose ancestors faced the torture of the Nazis and the tyranny of Castro’s regime. Her parents have already planned her future but Ilana knows that she has her own course to take, her own restless spirit to follow. When they decide that a European summer in the company of her aunt will change her mind and make her more receptive to their parents, Illana leaves her friends behind. But Prague is waiting. Its streets are whispering. Its very air is alive with hundreds of years of History and Culture. llana only has to listen to its call…

‘’Prague

the golden city 

of a hundred towers

and a thousand stories

for the summer.’’

‘’Prague is old,

but her streets are dancing.’’

‘’I dream about men

wandering the streets of Prague,

their lantern -eyes alight.

The wind doesn’t stir

their coats;

their throats barely flash

as they breathe.’’

This marvellous story needs to grace the bookshelves of every reader. It is an ode to one of the most beautiful cities in our world. Its pages echo with the lullabies of folklore, the steps of the vodnik, and the Golem. The sorrowful song of a violin, the starlight in Alphonse Mucha’s works, the laughter of the witch puppets of Prague.

‘’Prague’s always confusing itself.

It doesn’t know 

what’s part of its true history

and what is a story

people tell about it.

It can’t remember 

if it was built by travellers

or a woman named Libuse

who could see the future,

if Rabbi Loew was a scholar

or a magician

who made a soldier

out of clay 

to protect 

the Jewish people here.

It doesn’t know 

if the birch groves are sleent

of if they’re full of vila-

enchanted women 

whose beauty

haunts

the minds of foresters

Prague believes in magic,

Prague believes in itself.’’

A city of ghosts that fall in love with the living. And the living cannot help but fall in love with them…This IS Prague.

‘’There aren’t many Jews left in Prague;

the Shoah

(the greatest shipwreck

of our People)

stole them away,

leaving their books,

their songs,

their stories behind.

But the Jews of Prague

are all around me here.

Their dust grows up

through the earth;

their hands reach for me.’’

‘’Inside the Pinkas Synagogue

        (built in 1535)

there are names painted on the walls 

in red and black ink.

They’re a chapter

in the history of my People,

but I can’t read them all.

There are too many –

   78,000

victims of the Nazis,

  Czechs and Slovaks

murdered, all because

   they were Jews.

This is what it’s like to be Jewish

in Europe.

Every beautiful thing

has horror buried under it.

                 I’m always walking on bones.’’

This is a girl that hears the call of her past. A strong, courageous young woman who risks all for those she loves, for her heritage, for a desperate attempt to see a tiny moment of justice restored. Romero’s story is a siren’s song that doesn’t tempt but urges us to open our eyes, to learn, to love. It is a cry to be brave when the time comes for us to fight against our dreams. A cry for us to understand that we must NEVER FORGET.

‘’Baruch ata Adonai,

Eloheinu Melech ha – olam,

asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav

v’zivavu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.’’

Many thanks to PeachTree Teen and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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