Saturday, March 25, 2017

Bessie's Pillow published by Strong Learning, Inc. ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Have you ever picked up a book, and had no clue what kind of emotional roller coaster you were about to embark on? Bessie's Pillow, written by Linda Bress Silbert and published by Strong Learning, Inc., is a book that I will never forget! It's a book that will keep you turning the pages, and leave you wanting more and more of the real life people that make this story what it is. It is the perfect book to understand a little bit about what it was like to be an immigrant, especially since immigration has been a recent topic.

Bessie's Pillow is based on the true story about Boshka "Bessie" Markman Dreizen, an 18 year old Jewish immigrant, who has to leave her family behind in Lithuania to travel to America in order to start a new life. The author, Linda Bress Silbert, who is Bessie's granddaughter, takes us on this unforgettable journey of this amazing woman's life.

As Boshka Markman is leaving her family behind to embark on this journey across the world, she is approached by a woman who she used to know from Glubokoye. She hears that Boshka is traveling to America, and asks her to deliver a special pillow to her son, Nathan. Embroidered on the pillow is the Yiddish phrase "May this pillow bring you peace". Boshka boards the train with pillow in hand, not knowing just how much peace this pillow will bring her.

On her journey to America, Boshka has to be washed and disinfected, and also pass mulitiple health inspections by a doctor in order to be able to continue her travels. Boshka is passed on all accounts and boards the steamship that will take her to America.

As the Statue of Liberty comes into view, Boshka disembarks, then rides a ferry to Ellis Island. Here is where she will receive her "American" name of Elizabeth, which is later changed again, to Bessie.

We follow Bessie along throughout her life in New York. From her family life to her career, her story is full of twists and turns. It will have you smiling one minute, and have you in tears the next. The author does such a great job of bringing New Rochelle, New York to life for the reader.

As if reading the story isn't great enough, you can also get a downloadable study guide to go along with the book. They also have a fabulous website, Bessie's America, that is a wealth of information. Here you can learn more about immigration and Bessie's family.

This has been such a blessing to me to have been able to read this book. I knew it looked like a good book, but I had no clue that it was going to be a book that I could not put down. It was one of those books that you just didn't want to end, so you tried to slow down reading it, but it just kept moving forward like a freight train.

I read this aloud to both of my kids who are 11 and 15. I definitely think that they were both a good age to be able to understand it. They, like me, had a hard time putting the book down. The chapters are short so it was easy to get in "just one more chapter."

In closing, I was going to try and include my favorite part of the book, but there were just too many to choose from. So, I would have to say that my favorite part of the book was Bessie herself. A woman who escapes persecution and starts a new life in America, and ends up giving hope to others as well. She unmistakably touched my heart. If you looked up words in a dictionary such as strong, courageous, independant, and determined, they would all have Boshka "Bessie" Markman Dreizen's picture next to them. She was definitely one of a kind, and I am happy I had a chance to get to know who she was.

The author talking about Bessie.

Don't forget to follow along on social media!

90 of us on the crew were blessed to have been able to review this book. If you would like to read other reviews about Bessie's Pillow, just click the banner below.

Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}
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  1. So glad that you and your children enjoyed my grandmother's story and learned much about the world she lived in through the book and Bessie's America.

    Dr. Linda