In this novel set at the turn of the century, two boys?one Orthodox Jew and the other Amish?are brought together by chance. When Isaac Litvak, 12, is injured on an Amish farm, his Jewish peddler father leaves him behind to recuperate with the whispered reminder, "Remember who you are." Though kind and well-meaning, the foreign-speaking family's eating habits and religious laws are strange. Also, Isaac senses anger and tension. Gideon Stolzfus, 16, chafes under the rigid tenets of his family's local sect, and plans to run away to his uncle's more lenient community. His sister Annie finds his secret stash of "englische" clothes, a forbidden copy of Treasure Island, and a harmonica. She fears losing him forever and begs Isaac to help her persuade Gideon to stay. Deft characterizations and juxtaposition of fathers and sons amplify similarities and differences between the families and cultures. Gideon's stern, unyielding father illustrates the vast emotional chasm that results from a heavy-handed approach in parent/teen relations, universally, in any culture, at any time. While Isaac's faith is not tested in abusive circumstances, as it is with the Amish teen, worldly interactions complicate matters.
Sweet story about the lives of two very different families early in the twentieth century. Gideon and Isaac are the sons of an Amish family and a Jewish family. Their lives intertwine after an unfortunate wagon wreck. This book is written for age 10-14, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.