Meet Rebecca by Jacqueline Dembar Greene (published by American Girl, May 2009)
The year is 1914. Nine-year-old Rebecca Rubin lives in New York City, where she was born after her parents and grandparents, Russian Jews, immigrated to America. One of five children, she feels like the odd one out - her fourteen-year-old twin sisters think she is too young to go anywhere with them, and she has little in common with her two brothers. Rebecca longs to be more grown up - to be able help light the candles on the Sabbath, and see movies with her sisters.
Rebecca becomes interested in acting after meeting her mother's cousin, Max, who is an actor. Her parents and grandparents, however, think acting is improper for a young lady, and think Rebecca should be a teacher when she grows up. When she learns that her relatives in Russia need to immigrate to America to escape the war, and that in particular her cousin Ana, who is her age, is hungry and sick and needs to get to America as soon as possible, she must make a grown-up decision about how to spend the money she earned selling her needlework. Should she buy candlesticks so she can light candles on the Sabbath like a grown-up girl, or give the money to her parents to help buy tickets to America for Ana and her family?
I was really excited to see that American Girl was finally adding a Jewish character. I loved the American Girl dolls and books growing up, and like Rebecca's parents and grandparents, my own ancestors were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who settled in New York city around the early 1900s, so it was nice to see a character with a family history similar to my own. If you know a young girl who loves history or the American Girls Collection, this would be a nice book to recommend to her, or to give as a gift.