Sarah's Stars

Karen Autio. Saara's Passage 
Sono Nis $10.95  ISBN 978-1-55039-168-8  256 pg.
Reviewed by Anika, Age 11

Sarah, your life has been saved for a purpose. This is what Mr. Blackwell's letter said after the Empress of Ireland went down. And these are the words that will stick with Saara forever. As she mulls over her purpose, it becomes obvious; her purpose may take forever to find.

Saara Maki is trying hard to forget the Empress of Ireland's sinking. She gets to star in the school play, ahead of terribly mean Senja, she visits with Aunt Marja and Uncle Arvo and her newborn cousin, Sanni, all the while constantly wondering her purpose. When Aunt Marja falls ill with tuberculosis, she is sent to a sanatorium in Toronto, away from her baby. This hits Saara hard. With the war overseas and Aunt Marja’s illness, Saara must go to the farm to care for them all. Her world changes.  At the farm she meets and befriends Mikko. But their friendship may just be a teensy bit more.

Saara's Passage is in my opinion better than the first book, Second Watch. It has more feeling than a lot of books. Even the character of Saara improves in this incredible sequel. Saara's Passage gets exciting right at the beginning. Saara has goals, friends and dreams like a real person. They lead her to trouble and good times. Saara's Passage is a book that shows what some girls’ challenges were during WWI. It also proves that yes, one person can make a difference, and all because Saara had come to the farmhouse.

With a Finnish Glossary, photographs, historical note including things on Tuberculosis, WWI and socialism and a further information page at the end of the book, Saara's Passage feels complete. The Finnish Glossary also has pronunciations. Inspiration for Second Watch and Saara's Passage was a silver spoon that was rescued from the Titanic disaster.

Saara's Passage is recommended for ages ten and up, as the reading is a little bit more difficult than the first book. Saara's Passage is a beautiful book and I give it 4 stupendous stars out of five.

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