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The Last Song by Eva Wiseman
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The Last Song

by Eva Wiseman

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Set during the Spanish Inquisition, this story for teen readers relates the story of Isabel and her family who became "good Christians" to avoid Jewish persecution. Isabel herself never even realized that her family was Jewish until she hears other Christians calling her family names. To try to avoid what they see as impending persecution of Jews who became Christians and still practice their faith, they arrange a marriage between Isabel and a Christian boy. Isabel detests the boy and protests the marriage. It's even apparent the boy will be a spousal abuser. The book contains arrests, a burning scene, and some glimpses of hope. The families are not sure who their friends are and who their enemies are because it is obvious there is an informant in their midst. It's a piece of historical fiction for young adults covering an era that has a story that needs to be heard, but it's likely to be more popular with female readers than male ones. Most characters are developed adequately for their roles in the story. The narrative did not always flow as naturally as it could have nor did the tension mount as it could have. It's still a great read. This review is based on an e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes. ( )
  thornton37814 | Oct 18, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This ended up being a sweet little story, not something I ever thought I would say about a book that claims to be about the Spanish Inquisition. Rather than focusing on the horrors of the time period, Wiseman focuses on how Isabel, who was raised Catholic, comes to terms with the fact that her parents have been lying to her all along and she is actually Jewish. Her acceptance of herself and the Jewish community really is the driving force of the novel. In the course of her explorations, she meets Yonah, a boy her age who has grown up in the Jewish ghetto. The Last Song really is a book about finding out who you are with a cute little romance thrown in. The fear of the Spanish Inquisition a dull hum in the background. ( )
  lawral | Jun 20, 2014 |
See the full review on Short & Sweet Reviews.

Much of the book seemed flat to me. While the narration was often vivid and did well at setting the scene, the dialogue frequently felt stilted and unbelievable, even taking into account the fact that the story takes place hundreds of years in the past. Many of the characters are very one-note and can be summed up very simply and see little development throughout the story. They never really rise up to be more complex or have less of a caricature sort of portrayal. Isabel is the daughter of a privileged family, Yonah is a charming boy who changes Isabel's mind about Jewish people, and so on. Except for a few moments, the characters show little depth. Characters have changes of heart about very important topics almost at the drop of a hat. Isabel grew up believing that Jewish people were to be despised, but within days of learning that her family has Jewish roots, is breaking all sorts of rules to learn more about her newly adopted faith. There are very few moments examining Isabel's inner conflict over the secrets she learned about her family. I found many of Isabel's actions to be highly unbelievable -- even though she's a teenager and therefore probably prone to being more impulsive, she makes decisions that could be life-or-death for her family, with very little thought to the consequences. ( )
  goorgoahead | Dec 4, 2013 |
An engrossing story set in late 15th century Toledo during the Spanish Inquisition. The author does a fine job with historical detail creating a vivid sense of time and place, but the characters could have used a bit more depth and the plot was often predictable. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
Isabel dislikes her intended husband, but her parents hope to protect her from the dangers of the Inquisition by marrying her off to the scion of an important Catholic family. As Isabel discovers her Jewish roots, she fights to save her family in this historical fiction. ( )
  STBA | Mar 20, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0887769799, Hardcover)

Spain had been one of the world’s most tolerant societies for eight hundred years, but that way of life was wiped out by the Inquisition. Isabel’s family feels safe from the terrors, torture, and burnings. After all, her father is a respected physician in the court of Ferdinand and Isabella. Isabel was raised as a Catholic and doesn’t know that her family’s Jewish roots may be a death sentence. When her father is arrested by Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor, she makes a desperate plan to save his life – and her own.
 
Once again, master storyteller Eva Wiseman brings history to life in this riveting and tragic novel.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:36 -0400)

When the tolerant culture of Spain is shattered by the Inquisition, Isabel feels safe because of her Catholic upbringing and father's position as a respected doctor, until he is arrested for the family's secret Jewish heritage.

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