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The Ghosts of Rose Hill
Cover of The Ghosts of Rose Hill
The Ghosts of Rose Hill
"A must-read for lost souls everywhere." —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review With spellbinding verse prose, R.M. Romero channels the spirit of myth into a brilliantly original tale, inspired by her...
"A must-read for lost souls everywhere." —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review With spellbinding verse prose, R.M. Romero channels the spirit of myth into a brilliantly original tale, inspired by her...
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  • "A must-read for lost souls everywhere." —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
    With spellbinding verse prose, R.M. Romero channels the spirit of myth into a brilliantly original tale, inspired by her experiences restoring Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe.

    Magic will burn you up.

    Sent to stay with her aunt in Prague and witness the humble life of an artist, Ilana Lopez—a biracial Jewish girl—finds herself torn between her dream of becoming a violinist and her immigrant parents’ desire for her to pursue a more stable career.
     
    When she discovers a forgotten Jewish cemetery behind her aunt’s cottage, she meets the ghost of a kindhearted boy named Benjamin, who died over a century ago. As Ilana restores Benjamin’s grave, he introduces her to the enchanted side of Prague, where ghosts walk the streets and their kisses have warmth.
     
    But Benjamin isn't the only one interested in Ilana. Rudolph Wassermann, a man with no shadow, has become fascinated with her and the music she plays. He offers to share his magic, so Ilana can be with Benjamin and pursue her passion for violin. But after Ilana discovers the truth about Wassermann and how Benjamin became bound to the city, she resolves to save the boy she loves, even if it means losing him—forever.
    A love letter to Latin American and Jewish diasporas, based on the author's experiences working to maintain Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe. The Ghosts of Rose Hill is a tender and empowering read that you will devour in one sitting. Steeped in history and the experiences of immigrant families, especially Jewish families, each carefully-chosen word of this magical verse novel casts a spell. A Summer 2022 Indie Next Pick!

About the Author-

  • R. M. Romero is a Jewish Latina and author of fairy tales for children and adults. She lives in Miami Beach with her cat, Henry VIII, and spends her summers helping to maintain Jewish cemeteries in Poland. The Ghosts of Rose Hill was inspired by these experiences. Find R.M. on Instagram @rmromeroauthor.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    March 1, 2022
    A magical realist romance told in verse explores the many transitions of life: from homelands to new homes, from childhood to adulthood, from life to death and back again. The daughter of two immigrant legacies, Ilana Lopez knows what it is to live with ghosts of the past. On her mother's side, there is a 500-year-long Jewish journey from Spain to Cuba to Miami Beach, and on her father's side, a flight from 20th-century totalitarianism in the former Czechoslovakia. It's the phantom of her family's struggles that sees her exiled to Prague the summer of her 16th year: Separating Ilana from her friends and her beloved violin, her parents hope she will turn her attention to preparing for a stable, successful, American future rather than dreams of music. In Prague, she stays with her wild Aunt Zofie and stumbles upon a long-abandoned Jewish cemetery on the hill behind her house. Lonely and longing for understanding, Ilana learns about the heavy Jewish history of Prague as the ghost of a blue-eyed boy with dark curls wends his way into her beating heart. The past is alive in Ilana's Prague, and it's alive in this story that combines modern adolescent concerns, magical realism, and religious themes in pristine verse. An ode to the Diaspora and to the many folktales and myths populating Ilana's mixed heritage, Romero's luscious work dives into dark, painful caverns and emerges in sprays of enthralling hope. A must-read for lost souls everywhere. (Verse novel. 13-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2022) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    April 1, 2022
    Grades 7-10 Sixteen-year-old budding violinist Ilana Lopez, who has disappointed her parents with poor grades and SAT scores, is sent to Prague to stay with her aunt, an artist living near an abandoned Jewish cemetery. Reneging on a promise to study over the summer, Ilana tends the neglected graves, meeting Benjamin and several children (all ghosts), as well as Rudolph Wassermann, a man with no shadow who asks her to move in with him and his ghostly hostages. After Benjamin and Ilana fall in love, he divulges that Wassermann is actually a vodnik (folkloric river monster) who lures dead children to his house to eat them. Ilana vows to free the ghosts, but will she ""survive / because she can be / just as ruthless / as the monster / who wants / to destroy her?"" Romero's novel in verse combines Judaic tradition with fantasy and is divided into movements like a classical musical piece. The vodnik is appropriately creepy, and while his physical details don't match Czech folklore exactly, he makes a perfect foil for the innocent Ilana.

    COPYRIGHT(2022) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 4, 2022
    An intoxicating blend of the contemporary and otherworldly, Romero’s (The Dollmaker of Krakow) layered novel in verse interlaces romance and ghost story with an exploration of cultural identity, folklore, and history. The parents of Miami Beach–born Ilana each fled from communism: her father from then-Czechoslovakia, and her Jewish mother from Cuba following her own family’s flight from Spain. Ilana’s passion for the violin and social life worry them, so they “exile” the 16-year-old to Prague for the summer, to stay with her artist aunt, Žofie, and study for the SAT. Instead, Ilana finds and begins tending a deserted Jewish cemetery on the hill behind Žofie’s cottage, where she meets—and falls in love with—the blue-eyed ghost of 16-year-old Benjamin, who is Jewish. Wandering Prague with him, Ilana deepens her understanding of “what it’s like to be Jewish/ in Europe./ Every beautiful thing/ has horror buried under it.” Lured back to the violin by a mysterious older German musician who cares for Benjamin and three younger ghosts, she strengthens her commitment to her art—and grows tempted by an invitation to remain in Prague. In lyrical, immersive language that’s both contemporary and ageless, Romero brings vivid life to the teenagers’ powerful romance. Ages 14–up. Agent: Rena Rossner, Deborah Harris Agency.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from June 1, 2022

    Gr 9 Up-Ilana Lopez is biracial Jewish Latina, born and raised in Miami by immigrant parents. Ilana's passion is music and playing her violin. This is crushing to her parents, who do not want her to struggle as they did. Attempting to snap her out of it, they take away her violin for the summer and send her to stay with her dad's sister, Aunt Zofie, in Prague. Aunt Zofie lives at Rose Cottage on Rose Hill. Arriving in Prague, Ilana discovers a neglected cemetery on her aunt's property. She begins to spend time clearing and maintaining the matzevots (tombstones), and is met with the ghost of Benjamin, a teen who died a century ago. They form a bond, and with Benjamin, Ilana discovers the magic and the history of Prague, of all those forgotten. While facing the horrors and monsters of the past of her people in Europe, and in feeling sadness, Ilana confronts her own demons and struggles. Romero's novel is beautifully written in heartbreaking verse. The blending themes of Jewish heritage, fairy tales, romance, monsters, and ghosts results in a rewarding read. Romero's writing seeps into the deepest part of the reader, providing much to think about in regards to love and death, passion and heartbreak. Broken down into four movements (a nod to classical music composition, no doubt), the novel's vibrant prose produces vivid imagery. VERDICT A modern folktale, a love letter to the diaspora, and a unique novel-in-verse, this work is recommended for all teen collections.-Gretchen Schulz

    Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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