The Blood Lie by Shirley Vernick
Review by Lauren
Copy from Author, All Opinions are Our Own
September 22, 1928, Massena, New York. Jack Pool's sixteenth birthday. He's been restless lately, especially during this season of more-times-at-the-synagogue than you can shake a stick at. If it wasn't Rosh Hashanah, then it was Yom Kippur, and if it wasn't Yom Kippur, it was the Sabbath. But temple's good for some things. It gives him lots of time to daydream about a beautiful but inaccessible Gentile girl named Emaline.
And if she isn't on his mind, then he's thinking about his music and imagining himself playing the cello with the New York Philharmonic. Yup, music is definitely his ticket out of this remote whistle-stop town—he doesn't want to be stuck here one more minute. But he doesn't realize exactly how stuck he is until Emaline's little sister Daisy goes missing and he and his family are accused of killing her for a blood sacrifice.
Blood Lie was inspired by a real blood libel that took place when a small girl disappeared from Massena, New York, in 1928, and an innocent Jewish boy was called a murderer.
Review: 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.