Sent to stay with her aunt in Prague and witness the humble life of an artist, Ilana Lopez—a biracial Jewish girl—finds herself torn between her dream of becoming a violinist and her immigrant parents’ desire for her to pursue a more stable career.
When she discovers a forgotten Jewish cemetery behind her aunt’s cottage, she meets the ghost of a kindhearted boy named Benjamin, who died over a century ago. As Ilana restores Benjamin’s grave, he introduces her to the enchanted side of Prague, where ghosts walk the streets and their kisses have warmth.
But Benjamin isn’t the only one interested in Ilana. Rudolph Wassermann, a man with no shadow, has become fascinated with her and the music she plays. He offers to share his magic, so Ilana can be with Benjamin and pursue her passion for violin. But after Ilana discovers the truth about Wassermann and how Benjamin became bound to the city, she resolves to save the boy she loves, even if it means losing him—forever.
***Thanks to NetGalley and Peachtree Teen for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided.
Beautifully written and incredibly touching, The Ghosts of Rose Hill urges us to remember our history while we fight for our future.
This is what it's like to be Jewish
Every beautiful thing
has horror buried under it.
I'm always walking on bones
The daughter of refugees, Ilana returns to her father’s homeland to find herself. Her parents want her to study, to prepare for university and her future. Ilana knows she will have to abandon her love of music to be the dutiful daughter they expect and deserve. Surrounded by her history in Prague, the boundary between worlds is thin, and magic is everywhere. Ilana spends her time clearing an abandoned Jewish cemetery and getting to know Benjamin, the friendly neighbourhood ghost.
It must be hard
to recall how to be alive
when you've been mist and memory
I was hesitant going into an entire novel written in verse prose, but it only added to the beauty of this story. Ilana is a thoughtful and intelligent teenager, respectful of her history and her parent’s expectations. However, she’s torn between fulfilling these expectations and pursuing a future in music and being in Prague – a magical city between worlds – makes this decision even more difficult. Falling in love with a ghost is never a great idea, but in Prague, anything is possible.
Maybe sixteen is a curse,
a time when everyone is stuck
between being a child
and being something else.
It is so much easier to write reviews about books with issues, but trying to find the words to convey what you love about an absolute masterpiece is difficult. The Ghosts of Rose Hill is a powerful story of good versus evil, of remembering and respecting our collective history, and of fighting for what you believe in. Filled with folklore and magic, I could not recommend this book more highly.
And the most impressive monsters
are always the least impressive men.