The Other Half of Life: A Novel Based on the True Story of the MS St. Louis

The Other Half of Life: A Novel Based on the True Story of the MS St. Louis

Kim Ablon Whitney / Jun 04, 2020
The Other Half of Life A Novel Based on the True Story of the MS St Louis A heartbreaking novel based on the true story of a World War II voyage In May of the SS St Francis sets sail from Germany carrying German Jews and other refugees away from Hitler s regime The p
  • Title: The Other Half of Life: A Novel Based on the True Story of the MS St. Louis
  • Author: Kim Ablon Whitney
  • ISBN: 9780375852190
  • Page: 377
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A heartbreaking novel based on the true story of a World War II voyage.In May of 1939, the SS St Francis sets sail from Germany, carrying German Jews and other refugees away from Hitler s regime The passengers believe they are bound for freedom in Cuba and eventually the United States, but not all of them are celebrating Fifteen year old Thomas is anxious about his pareA heartbreaking novel based on the true story of a World War II voyage.In May of 1939, the SS St Francis sets sail from Germany, carrying German Jews and other refugees away from Hitler s regime The passengers believe they are bound for freedom in Cuba and eventually the United States, but not all of them are celebrating Fifteen year old Thomas is anxious about his parents and didn t want to leave Germany his father, a Jew, has been imprisoned and his mother, a Christian, is left behind, alone Fourteen yearold Priska has her family with her, and she s determined to enjoy the voyage, looking forward to their new lives.Based on the true story of the MS St Louis, this historical young adult novel imagines two travelers and the lives they may have lived until events, and immigration laws, conspired to change their fates Kim Ablon Whitney did meticulous research on the voyage of the St Louis to craft her compelling and moving story about this little known event in history.
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      377 Kim Ablon Whitney
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      Posted by:Kim Ablon Whitney
      Published :2020-03-09T14:23:52+00:00

    About "Kim Ablon Whitney"

      • Kim Ablon Whitney

        Kim moved back to her hometown of Newton, Mass where she lives with her husband, two young sons, and greyhound She is a graduate of Tufts University, and has an M.F.A in creative writing from Emerson College She is a member of the PEN New England Children s Book Caucus and is the coordinator of the PEN New England Susan P Bloom Discovery Award A lifelong horse lover and rider, she is a nationally licensed judge and officiates at horse shows around the country She s also a passionate Boston sports fan, and an excerpt from her baseball themed novel in progress will appear in the anthology FENWAY FICTION.

    263 Comments

    1. In 1939, 930 German Jews set sail across the Atlantic Ocean on the MS St Louis in the hope of escaping Nazi persecution in Germany and of finding political asylum in Cuba The trip was costly to begin with, and then Cuba demanded 500 additional dollars that the refugees couldn t afford to pay The ship proceeded to the United States and Canada, but both countries refused to grant asylum to the Jewish refugees The captain of the St Louis had taken it upon himself the make sure the passengers were t [...]


    2. This middle grade historical fiction is based on the real life voyage of the M.S St Louis, a luxury liner that took Jews away from Nazi Germany only to be turned away from Cuba, the USA and Canada All 947 passengers were returned to various countries in Europe, and many died in concentration camps Whitney tells the story through the eyes of 15 year old Thomas, a prickly youth who carries guilt over his father going to Dachau and leaving his mother behind I found Thomas hard to identify with unti [...]


    3. Solid historical fiction based on the sad story of the MS St Louis, an ocean liner loaded with Jewish refugees that departed Germany in 1939 for Cuba Whitney focuses her novel on Thomas, a teen travelling alone to meet a half brother who had earlier emigrated to Cuba The relationships among the passengers and between passengers and crew are well drawn, including a budding romance between Thomas and a young woman named Priska I think this would be enjoyed by those young readers who can t get enou [...]



    4. I thought that the novel by Kim Albon Whitney, The Other Half of Life, was fabulous It is about a 15 year old boy, Thomas Werkmann, who boards a ship, the St Francis at Germany bound for Cuba and then the United States His mother has sent him there alone with the hope that he can escape the horrors of Nazi Germany in the mid 1900s His father is in a concentration camp When Thomas boards the ship, he means the Aldett family and becomes very taken with their beautiful daughter Priska, who feels th [...]


    5. Objective Summary spoiler warning The Other Half of Life By Kim Ablon Whitney follows a 15 year old boy named Thomas who is a Jew during world war two who lives in Germany At this point in world war two, Hitler is letting Jews out of Germany on ships heading for Cuba, and then to the U.S One of which is called the St Francis In an effort to escape Germany, Thomas is sent aboard the St Francis by his mother Unfortunately, they only have enough money to get one of them out of the Country and into [...]


    6. Reviewed by Allison Fraclose for TeensReadTooIt s 1939, and things have steadily grown worse for the Jews of Germany.Fifteen year old Thomas Werkmann has witnessed firsthand just how cruel the Nazis can be, and his mother has scraped together the money to send him to Cuba on the tourist boat, the MS Francis, along with over 900 other Jews hoping to escape persecution Upon their leaving in Hamburg, Thomas is unwillingly befriended by the two daughters of a German literature professor.Although jea [...]


    7. I would have preferred to give this a 3.5 rating.The story was a bit slow at times, in the descriptions of chess games and such The history part was interesting to me as I had not heard of this ship and incident before.From School Library JournalGrade 6 8 Based on the story of the MS St Louis in 1939, the journey of the fictional Nazi luxury liner MS St Francis from Germany to Cuba and the United States creates the dramatic underpinning for this story Focusing on 15 year old Thomas Werkmann and [...]


    8. An engrossing story based on one of the most shameful moments in U.S history the refusal to admit the 947 Jewish refugees fleeing from Nazi persecution on board the MS St Louis in 1939 Here the ship is called the MS St Francis, and we embark along with 15 year old Thomas, traveling alone at the urging of his gentile mother after his Jewish father has been imprisoned by the Nazis As the ship sets sail from Germany for Cuba, Thomas is befriended by Marianne and Priska, the daughters of the Affeldt [...]


    9. In 1939, Hitler and the Nazi Party have taken over Germany and Jews are rapidly being degrading and persecuted like never before 15 year old Thomas s father is Jewish and his mother, a gentile, has decided to send Thomas away to Cuba where he ll join his older half brother in safety Thomas is determined to be tough and cynical but two girls enter his life and change him for good At first Thomas feels the beautiful Priska is naive and her little sister Marianne silly, but the he gets to know the [...]


    10. Wow That s what I was thinking as I finished reading this book.This book was incredible It tells the story of a young boy named Thomas who boarded the St Francis ship by himself, with his mother still in Germany, to hopefully find freedom in Cuba since he was a Jew during the time Nazis were out to kill them Thomas was depressed while entering this ship He was leaving behind his mother he was leaving behind his father and there was no guarantee that there would be a better life after the ship Bu [...]


    11. In 1939, Germany was controlled by the Nazis On May 13, the passenger cruise ship MS St Louis left Hamburg, Germany with over 900 passengers, most of whom were Jewish people escaping Nazi persecution Their destination was the island of Cuba This historical fiction novel is based upon the events of that voyage Thomas is just 15, and traveling alone on the MS St Francis to go live with his stepbrother in Cuba His Jewish father was sent to a concentration camp, and his non Jewish mother couldn t af [...]


    12. This book takes place in the 1900s as Hitler is taking over Germany Many jews board ships to Cuba in order to escape This is a story of the kids, sailing on St Frances, as they explore, play, and face hardships while on the boat as well One thing I liked about this book was the perspective This book really captivates the carefree, yet worried feeling of the kids who were going through such a terrible time Although, the kids aboard the St Francis did not know much in the way of government schemes [...]


    13. In the years leading up to World War II, the Jewish people of Germany were the first to experience Hitler s hatred and the first who tried to escape 937 German Jews paid exorbitant fees to board the MS St Francis in order to escape Germany in hopes of building a new life in Cuba and later, the United States However, when the ship reached Cuba, they were not permitted to enter without another 500 dollars per person, money they did not have In their desperation, they turned to the United States On [...]


    14. I m having a hard time trying to think how to write a review of this book It s okay, it s just not great The history is important and the author does a good job of trying to portray what happened on the MS St Louis but for me, it felt a bit flat somehow There were deep emotional things happening often in the book but the author jumped through them too quickly You didn t have a chance to feel the moment because it was over before you knew what had happened and it isn t until the book is over that [...]


    15. This book is a must on every school shelf I had never heard of the MS St Louis before reading this book I could not imagine being in Thomas shoes and being the only one from my family on a ship that was to take me to safety Thomas father was taken to a concentration camp because he was a Jew and his mother, being a Christian had only enough money to buy the safe passage for her son On board he meets Priska and becomes her friend She reminded me of Anne Frank with her positive outlook, believing [...]


    16. While on my Nazi Germany phase, I picked up this book thinking it was just one of those books where the kid suffers and then gets to go to America at the end Yay Whoops This book completely turned the table and ended up being a really great book It starts with a 15 year old boy named Thomas who is a Jew Since this is Nazi Germany, his mother decides to send him to Cuba where his half brother is On the way he meets a 14 year old girl named Priska who, unlike Thomas, has lots of money and and her [...]


    17. I m giving this a 4 star because it s so danged sad I think it s made worse because I know what happened to the MS St Louis in real life and the author has just renamed this ships it the St Francis But I love her use of real characters that show how difficult it had to have been to leave everything you know and have to pay the Nazis to do it And when it s all said and done Cuba isn t the only country that won t take the Jews on the ship A must read if you want to know about the Holocaust.


    18. Id never even heard of the ship before i liked that the book showed another side of WWII that id never seen before, one where the US wasn t always ready to help i play chess but ive never been good at it, and this book showed me ill probably never be since i dont think aheadoh well besides a crushed dreami really liked the ending, not really caring spoiler that it wasnt happy wonderful book


    19. This book was not only good because of the historical fiction , but because the way the author used chess to symbolize the Thomas journey Although, I am not a fan of chess, this book caught my attention I d never seen chess in the eyes of a fanatic and i can honestly say that it convinced me The author is brillant and i am awaiting for her work My only critisism is that it was a bit easy for me.Totally recommend this book to EVERYONE, but mostly to geeks like myself.


    20. The Other Half of Life tells the story of the MS St.Louis, a German ocean liner, which transported 937 Jewish refugees into different countries in Europe when Cuba refused the ship The novel takes place from the protagonist Jonas point of view Jonas, a Jew, was separated from his mother For Jonas getting on that ship is the start of a new life, little does he know about what lays ahead on his journey The Other Half of Life is a tragic, beautiful, and enduring tale.


    21. The story of 15 year old Thomas journey on a luxury ship carrying Jews from early WWII Europe to freedom in Cuba A fictitious account of the real life journey of the MS St Louis More information about this little known voyage can be found at the back of the book and at the U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum website, including teaching resources A good addition to historical fiction collections.


    22. I really loved this story and stayed up late to finish it Was totally with fifteen year old Thomas througout his journey on the ship, M.S St Francis just prior to World War II Priska and her family also all trying to get out of Nazi Germany and away from persecution Emotionally gripping and really well told Highly recommend this.


    23. This was a good story, and it was very engrossing I think Holocaust stories are very important, and this one centered around specific events I was not aware of However, not a whole lot set it apart for me And I do not like when I don t understand why a book has a certain title, and that was the case for me here.


    24. This one was okay There was nothing to make it stand out from other holocaust literature It was lacking some of the soul searching and horror of other novels in the genre Perhaps it s a good way to tell younger children about the holocaust without a lot of bloodshed, though it s no Number the Stars.


    25. This is a great book if you enjoy historical fiction and want to read a clean, thought provoking story that is serious but not graphic or too heartwrenching It is a middle grade book and many of the details are not based on real people or events but the historical framework is accurate Although I am not a chess player I enjoyed the imagery and symbolism of chess used throughout the book.


    26. Having to leave one country and enter a new unseen country would be a frightening situation Having to leave home, family, community because of your race is staggering to consider Fearing every day that you may not make it to safety is thought provoking because we live where we feel safe As we ponder these issues while reading, the characters in this book grow too with the same questions.


    27. I enjoyed this story based on the journey of the St Louis This was an important event in world history and one that interests me very much, and yet is not well known today Much to my surprise, I stumbled upon The Other Half of Life while doing research for a novel I m writing on the same topic I hope there ll be room for both, as I m already well into it.


    28. I loved this story about Jews who tried to escape Germany prior to WWIIThe story is told from the perspective of 15 year old Thomas, who is traveling alone and falls in love with a girl on the ship It is a really cute story, especially for grades 4 9 But even as an adult I enjoyed it.


    29. Historical fiction shocked that I liked this one based on genre Story of Jews aboard a ship meant to take them out of Germany right at the beginning of WWII Cuba, America, Canada refused entrance to the passengers, turning the ship around.


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