Leaving her home in Russia for the unknown streets of Detroit, teenager Itkeh Isenberg dreams of a country where 'no one is poor', and where she will be free from the marauding bands of Cossacks that terrorise her town. Idealistic and vivacious, and without ever seeing a map, Itkeh bravely makes her way by cart, train and ship to join her two brothers in America, one of the millions of immigrants travelling westward at the beginning of the twentieth century. Along the way, Itkeh falls in love with Nicholas, a member of the Russian aristocracy and the Christian Orthodox Church who is fleeing from his past, and begins to deliberately ignore Jewish laws to be with him. When they are forced to part at Ellis Island, each promises to write; a twist of fate leaves Itkeh unable to fulfil her promise, however, and Nicholas' letters suspiciously never arrive. It soon becomes apparent that Itkeh's family is preventing their contact, and Itkeh herself begins to struggle with her emotions. This vibrant and poetic telling of Itkeh's story, based upon personal recollections of the author's mother, Edith, follows the choices a young Jewish girl must make when listening to conflicting messages from her heart, her family and her religion.
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