Cover image for Someday we will fly / by Rachel DeWoskin.
Someday we will fly / by Rachel DeWoskin.
Publication Information:
New York, New York : Viking, [2019]

Physical Description:
353 pages : map ; 22 cm.
Lillia, fifteen, flees Warsaw with her father and baby sister in 1940 to try to make a new start in Shanghai, China, but the conflict grows more intense as America and Japan become involved.


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DEW Book Teen Collection

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Warsaw, Poland. The year is 1940 and Lillia is 15 when her mother, Alenka, disappears and her father flees with Lillia and her younger sister, Naomi, to Shanghai, one of the few places that will accept Jews without visas. There they struggle to make a life; they have no money, there is little work, no decent place to live, a culture that doesn't understand them. And always the worry about Alenka. How will she find them? Is she still alive? Meanwhile Lillia is growing up, trying to care for Naomi, whose development is frighteningly slow, in part from malnourishment. Lillia finds an outlet for her artistic talent by making puppets, remembering the happy days in Warsaw when they were circus performers. She attends school sporadically, makes friends with Wei, a Chinese boy, and finds work as a performer at a "gentlemen's club" without her father's knowledge. But meanwhile the conflict grows more intense as the Americans declare war and the Japanese force the Americans in Shanghai into camps. More bombing, more death. Can they survive, caught in the crossfire?

Author Notes

Rachel DeWoskin spent her twenties in China as the unlikely star of a nighttime soap opera that inspired her memoir Foreign Babes in Beijing. She is the author of Repeat After Me and Big Girl Small, which received the American Library Association's Alex Award for an adult book with special appeal to teen readers; Rachel's conversations with young readers inspired her to write her first YA novel, Blind. Rachel is on the faculty of the University of Chicago, where she teaches creative writing. She lives in Chicago with her husband, playwright Zayd Dohrn, and their two daughters.
Rachel and her family spent six summers in Shanghai while she researched Someday We Will Fly.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

With pathos and a fine eye for historical detail, DeWoskin (Blind) relates the story of Shanghai's Jewish refugees during WWII, when Shanghai was under Japanese occupation. In May 1940, two days before their scheduled escape from Warsaw, 15-year-old Lillia's mother disappears, and Lillia, her father, and her malnourished 18-month-old sister Naomi, must flee Poland without her. Lillia, who has inherited her circus performer parents' agility and love for storytelling, finds solace making puppets from scavenged materials. Realizing that her family's survival depends in part on her, she discovers the lengths she will go to save them from starvation and illness, including selling her hair, pawning her mother's gold ring, and dancing in a club for wealthy Japanese men, all the while wondering if she'll ever see her mother again. Lillia's first-person narrative details occupied Shanghai extensively, from her initial impression of the city as "an electric mob of running, waving, shouting" to the ever-present Japanese soldiers. DeWoskin captures the crushing destruction of war and occupation, the unfathomable resilience communities can muster through cross-cultural friendships and acts of kindness, andthe power of the performing arts to foster hope in times of struggle and desperation. Ages 12-up. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

In 1940, Lillias Jewish family plans to escape the Nazi threat in Warsaw for Shanghai. Her parents are acrobats, and when their circus is raided, Lillia and her father and sister are separated from the girls mother and must make the journey without knowing her fate. Once there, the family lives among other refugees in Japanese-occupied Shanghai, and Lillia attends an international Jewish school. She begins to interact with local people via her friendship with Wei, a boy who works at the school, and later his sister Aili. Lillia (fifteen when the story begins) starts out somewhat naive, and DeWoskin sensitively shows her maturing as she comes to realize the privilege she has over Shanghai-born Wei and Aili, even as a refugee, and the repercussions her actions can have for them. Her growth also involves accepting the role of sole breadwinner when her father and sister fall ill; left without many options, she takes a job dancing and socializing at a club for wealthy Japanese men. Though a climactic revelation seems perhaps too good to be true, the novel is honest about the impossibility of a completely happy ending. Prose thick with description details 1940s Shanghai through the eyes of a first-person narrator trying to make sense of a setting completely new to her. A personal and informative authors note and an extensive list of sources make it evident that this novel highlighting a WWII story rarely told in YA is a well-researched one. shoshana flax March/April 2019 p 79(c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.