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Crescent Blues Book ViewsClarion (Hardcover), ISBN 0-618-13351-8
A brusque, burly, 12-year-old orphan named Rodzina Clara Jadwiga Anastazya Brodski makes an unlikely, but interesting, heroine in Karen Cushman's fifth young adult historical novel, Rodzina. However, while Rodzina's shoes (boots passed down from her dead father) prove hard to fill, so do the shoes of the more fascinating Cushman heroines who came before her, i.e., Lady Catherine ("Birdy") of Catherine Called Birdy, Brat of The Midwife's Apprentice, Matilda of Matilda Bone, and Lucy of The Ballad of Lucy Whipple.

Book: lkaren cushman, rodzina
Rodzina faces her parents' and siblings' death with strength. She carries on alone with a silent dignity. Even when she leaves the Chicago of the late 1800s and the past she loved, Rodzina remains tough and stands tall. She believes herself old enough to live alone, but fate whisks her west on the orphan train. She finds little to comfort there -- the insensitive Mr. Sprozt and his false promises of finding a loving family to adopt her, a cold woman called "Miss Doctor" and a group of younger children looking for hope.

One by one, prospective parents claim the cuter, younger children as their own, leaving Rodzina to re-board the train again and again. Just when it seems like she will never find a home, Mr. Sprozt places her in the most unsuitable of situations. Rodzina soon realizes that she must step beyond herself and learn to reach out to another before she can find a place where she might truly fit it.

Rodzina's endearing story offers unique perspectives on coping, a fascinating expose of life on an orphan train, humor, and a heart-warming resolution. Not Cushman's finest work, but a worthwhile read just the same.

Lynne Marie Pisano

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