The Last Song
The Inquisition has just begun, and teenage Isabel believes she is safe from Torquemada and his brutal minions. She was raised in a Catholic family, and she attends church regularly. But her parents have a secret – they are conversos, Jews who converted to Christianity to avoid persecution, and they still practice some of the traditional Jewish customs in their home. For her protection, Isabel is betrothed to Luis de Carrera, an uncouth young man from an old Catholic family. Marrying into the de Carrera family would ensure Isabel’s safety from the Inquisition if her family were to come under suspicion. But marrying Luis is the farthest thing from Isabel’s mind – especially after she meets Yonah, a goldsmith’s apprentice who lives in the Jewish ghetto of Toledo. When the Jews are expelled from Toledo, Yonah must leave. But Isabel and her family have a difficult decision of their own to make: do they stay true to their beliefs and leave as well, or do they continue to live a lie and risk incurring the wrath of the Inquisition?
Teenage protagonists work well in this type of setting – the typical rebelliousness and bravery of teens makes it believable when they stand up to authority. Isabel is no exception. Her search for her place in the world is fascinating, and her quest for belonging transcends time and place. Eva Wiseman’s novel is brief, poetic, and difficult to put down. The Last Song is suitable for readers ages 12 and up.