A Ceiling Made of Eggshells

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A Ceiling Made of Eggshells
Author: Carson Levine, Gail
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Time Period: Renaissance
Time Frame: 1483-1492
Geographic Area: Europe
Country: Spain
Topics: Spanish Inquisition, Jewish Persecution
Genre: Fiction
Reading Age:Middle Grade, Upper Middle Grade
Format: Novel
Published: 2009

World History > Renaissance > Spanish Inquisition

In A Ceiling Made of Eggshells, Newbery Honor-winning author Gail Carson Levine tells a moving and ambitious story set during the expulsion of Jews from Spain, about a young Jewish girl full of heart who must play her own role in her people’s epic history—no matter the sacrifice.

Surrounded by her large family, Loma is happy living in the judería of Alcalá de Henares, Spain, and wants nothing more than to someday have a family of her own.

Still, when her intimidating grandfather, her Belo, decides to bring her along on his travels, she’s excited to join him. Belo has the ear of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, and Loma relishes her adventures with him, adventures that are beyond the scope of most girls of the time. She soon learns just how dangerous the world is for the Jews of Spain, and how her grandfather’s influence keeps their people safe.

But the older Loma gets, the more she longs to realize her own dreams—if Belo will ever allow her to leave his side.

Emily's Reviews

This is a unique story, in that I don't think I've ever seen a middle-grade book set during the Spanish Inquisition, revolving around the expulsion of the Jews. So I was definitely excited to read it.

I loved Paloma as a character - she has a great arc over the course of the story. All Paloma, or Loma, wants is to be a mother. She adores caring for her "littles" - her siblings, nieces, and nephews and cannot wait to have children of her own. However, Abuelo, her grandfather whom she calls Belo, has different plans for her and asks her to help him in his work to protect the Jews of Spain.

We follow Loma from the age of about 7 until she is 16, as she travels across Spain with her father and grandfather, meeting with the monarchs and pleading for the Jews. All the while, the Christians of Spain constantly try to force them to convert, sometimes politely, but most times it was either convert or die. Those who did were watched carefully, in case they reverted to Judaism. It was a very dangerous time and place to be a Jew, and it was great to see Loma holding strong to her beliefs.

This book was very well-researched, and I know it was one that the author had been wanting to write for many years as it is based on her own family history.

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