Born to an American father and an Ethiopian mother, eleven-year-old Meskerem loves her life in Katzrin, Israel. However, her mother gets a new job in the city of Herzliya requiring the family to relocate, and Meskerem is reluctant to go; she’ll especially miss her beloved grandmother. At her new school, Meskerem is surprised and saddened to face prejudice and racism. Despite the fact that she is Israeli, Meskerem’s classmates assume she recently arrived in Israel from Ethiopia via Operation Solomon where thousands of Ethiopian Jews were transported to Israel. Shocked by the racial epithets and disrespect she experiences, Meskerem feels ashamed of her heritage; she even tells her classmates that she is from America and that her name is Macy. Meskerem is further frustrated when she overhears that her mom is also facing racism and prejudice at her new job.
Meskerem looks forward to her upcoming birthday gift — a trip to visit her grandmother in Katzrin. When Meskerem’s dad is injured in a car accident and their planned trip to visit Katzrin gets cancelled, Meskerem sneaks on a train to visit her grandmother anyway. When she arrives, her grandmother relays stories of their family’s perseverance, and encourages her granddaughter to be strong and embrace her heritage. When she returns to Herzliya, Meskerem feels invigorated. With the help of her parents, she learns to be proud of her lineage, both Ethiopian and American, and faces her classmates as her true self.
The book’s focus on immigration and family will be relevant to many readers and enlightening to others. Meskerem’s experiences and their historical context are important for readers of all backgrounds. This worthy story, which approaches race, bigotry, and multicultural Jewish heritage, is highly recommended.