Loving Liberty Levine

Written by Colin Falconer
Review by Viviane Crystal

Sarah Levine has what she calls “bad” thoughts about stealing the children of her relatives. In the early 1900s, her husband Micah decides they will leave Russia to live in America, promising he will send her a ticket as soon as he has enough money to pay for it. When Sarah finally arrives in New York harbor, she finds Micah and a baby girl whom he says he found abandoned.  They name the baby “Liberty” for the statue that welcomed them to glorious America. Sarah gives her heart and soul to Libby but is haunted to almost the very last page about the secret she discovers about her daughter. Libby’s red hair and physical appearance pronounce her as a “shiksa,” but no one else cares. The plot ranges through two world wars and the Great Depression.  Micah dies in France during WWI, while Sarah becomes one of the Ziegfeld Follies girls and later marries Dewey, a banker. He adores Sarah, but the reader is never quite sure why she married him. After the financial crash of the ’30s, Sarah must claw her way back to financial survival. By this time, a cycle of secrets has traveled full circle and is about to be fully exposed.

Sarah’s personality and way of conducting herself are uniquely depicted. Her speech is that of a Russian immigrant, and she is very intelligent, possessing an intuitively spot-on judgment about people that she learns to trust. She values her Jewishness but is not tied to it. Her friendships build up her strength and pride. This is earthy, fascinating historical fiction and a lovely read!