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Incantation by Alice Hoffman

Incantation (2006)

by Alice Hoffman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Growing up in Spain around 1500 in the village where her family has lived for 500 years, Estrella, 16, knows that there are secrets in her home. As books are burned in the streets, and Jews from the nearby ghetto are murdered, she confronts the reality that she is a Marrano, part of a community of underground Jews who attend a special "church." The plot tangent involving Estrella's best friend, Catalina, jealous because Estrella has taken her boyfriend, seems too purposeful, but the historical fact is compelling, with the reason for the secrets spelled out in the horrifying persecution: Estrella is witness to her mother's burning and her brother's bones being broken by the police "one at a time." Acclaimed adult writer Hoffman, whose YA books include Aquamarine (2001), makes the history immediate in Estrella's spare, intense first-person narrative, in which tension builds as Estrella's discovers her hidden identity.
  MBacon | Nov 19, 2017 |
Incantation by Alice Hoffman; (5*);

This book mesmerized me and I read it in one sitting. It takes us to the 15th or 16th century, to the Spanish Inquisition. It is a story about a village in Spain which is inhabited by Christians, Muslims and Jews. The Jews live behind a gated wall which is locked each night. Their books are all burned and they are all considered heretics. The entire village knows that they will all perish one day.
Those Jews who wish to live, live a life of pretense. They pretend to have Christian names. They pretend not to observe the Sabbath. They pretend all the while not do the Jewish things that they do.
The main characters of the book are a Jewish girl Esther (no one knows that is her real name) and her friend Catalina. Catalina is not a Jew. She does not know that her best friend is a Jew.
Esther's brother is in Seminary as becoming a Catholic priest is one way to help protect the Jews. She lives with her mother, grandmother and grandfather who is a teacher. Unbeknownst to the community he teaches the village Jews at night in a cellar room. He is also a surgeon and only the Jewish community knows that as well.
Catalina's intended falls in love with Esther and when Catalina discovers this she becomes so angry that she turns the family in as Jews. What follows is horrible. Actually what goes on throughout the entire book is horrible.
This book is written by Alice Hoffman. A writer I have yet to see "blow" a book. I highly recommend this book. It is short, easy to read, but I wouldn't have a child under 15 or 16 read it.
However I know that within the next 6 months to a year, I will have read this book again. I have never read material like this written in such a simplistic manner. Kudos to Hoffman. She has done it again. ( )
2 vote rainpebble | Jul 17, 2017 |
Anything by Alice Hoffman is going to be good. Incantation is no exception. It tells a brief story of a family of Jews during the Spanish Inquisition. It is a story of love, hate, betrayal, and loss. Worth the read and can be read in one sitting, if desired. ( )
  omgully | Jul 6, 2017 |
A great story about the persecution of the Spanish Jews. I have never read much on this subject so I found it to be quite interesting. I was so intrigued how the relationship between Estrella and Catalina changed, and all over a boy. I was appalled by that. The story is a real eye opener about this time in history. It is a teen book so it seems to be quite simply written, but being a quick read is sometimes a good thing. It has made me want to read more about his topic so I find that to be a good thing. ( )
  bnbookgirl | Apr 8, 2016 |
Read by Jenna Lamia. At age 16, Estrella deMadrigal learns a dangerous secret about her family: they are Jews who are secretly practicing their faith in Spain at a time when Jews are forced to convert to Christianity. This knowledge impacts her shifting relationship with her best friend Carolina (Estrella is attracted to Carolina's betrothed, cousin Andres) and how Estrella now views her community and upbringing. Her grandfather practices medicine underground and her brother Luis has been away, ostensibly studying to become a priest, but actually learning about the Jewish faith in order to help lead the underground community. Ultimately, Estrella's grandfather, mother and brother are arrested and cruelly put to death along with other people turned in by their neighbors. With Andres' help, Estrella and her grandmother escape the carnage and look to starting life anew in Amsterdam, never to forget what just came to pass.
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alice Hoffmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Spalenka, GregContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I thought I knew the world.
I thought I knew myself.
I thought I knew my dearest friend.
But I knew nothing at all.
--Estrella deMadrigal, Spain 1500
First words
If every life is a river, then it's little wonder that we do not even notice the changes that occur until we are far out in the darkest sea.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The story takes place with a girl name Estrella. She's a normal girl living in Spain. One day her neighbors were taken out of their home and thrown in jail because they were accused of being Jewish. During that time, it was known as the Spanish inquisition where if you were Jewish and somebody would find out, you would have been thrown in jail then maybe killed. After that horrible event happened, many people started to accuse one another of being Jewish. This started to make Estrella think about who she is and she finds out shes Jewish. Estrella is a brave and a very caring person because she tries really hard to save her family knowing that she could be killed by doing so.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316154288, Paperback)

Estrella is a Marrano: During the time of the Spanish Inquisition, she is one of a community of Spanish Jews living double lives as Catholics. And she is living in a house of secrets, raised by a family who practices underground the ancient and mysterious way of wisdom known as kabbalah. When Estrella discovers her family's true identity--and her family's secrets are made public--she confronts a world she's never imagined, where new love burns and where friendship ends in flame and ash, where trust is all but vanquished and betrayal has tragic and bitter consequences.

Infused with the rich context of history and faith, in her most profoundly moving work to date, Alice Hoffman's first historical novel is a transcendent journey of discovery and loss, rebirth and remembrance.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:21 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

During the Spanish Inquisition, sixteen-year-old Estrella, brought up a Catholic, discovers her family's true Jewish identity, and when their secret is betrayed by Estrella's best friend, the consequences are tragic.

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