A brilliantly original tale for fans of The Bear and the Nightingale and The Hazel Wood about embracing your power, facing your monsters, and loving deeply enough to transcend a century.
Inspired by the author's experiences restoring Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe.
"A must-read for lost souls everywhere." —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
Magic will burn you up.
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.
A love letter to Latin American and Jewish diasporas, based on the author's experiences working to maintain Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe. The Ghosts of Rose Hill is a tender and empowering read that you will devour in one sitting. Steeped in history and the experiences of immigrant families, especially Jewish families, each carefully-chosen word of this magical verse novel casts a spell.
A Sydney Taylor Notable Book
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Best YA Book of the Year
A BuzzFeed Best YA Book of the Year
An Indie Next Pick!
An intoxicating blend of the contemporary and otherworldly, Romero's (The Dollmaker of Krakow) layered novel in verse interlaces romance and ghost story with an exploration of cultural identity, folklore, and history. The parents of Miami Beach born Ilana each fled from communism: her father from then-Czechoslovakia, and her Jewish mother from Cuba following her own family's flight from Spain. Ilana's passion for the violin and social life worry them, so they "exile" the 16-year-old to Prague for the summer, to stay with her artist aunt, ofie, and study for the SAT. Instead, Ilana finds and begins tending a deserted Jewish cemetery on the hill behind ofie's cottage, where she meets and falls in love with the blue-eyed ghost of 16-year-old Benjamin, who is Jewish. Wandering Prague with him, Ilana deepens her understanding of "what it's like to be Jewish/ in Europe./ Every beautiful thing/ has horror buried under it." Lured back to the violin by a mysterious older German musician who cares for Benjamin and three younger ghosts, she strengthens her commitment to her art and grows tempted by an invitation to remain in Prague. In lyrical, immersive language that's both contemporary and ageless, Romero brings vivid life to the teenagers' powerful romance. Ages 14 up.
I’m not huge on poetry, but I really enjoyed following along as Iliana explored Prague. Romero explores the identity struggles faced by Jewish Latinx people, especially as individuals like Iliana are still trying to heal from the multi-generational trauma. I loved the way Romero emphasized the beauty of music and of Iliana’s love for Hebrew traditions, as these were critical parts of who she is. The love shared between Iliana and other characters also added to the magic of the story, though I’ll acknowledge the ghosts helped with that one too. I would definitely recommend this story to others, and I’m hoping to snag a copy for my class library! 🎻