THE NEXT SHIP HOME: A NOVEL OF ELLIS ISLAND
BY HEATHER WEBB
Publication Date: February 8, 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction
Ellis Island, 1902: Two women band together to hold America to its promise: “Give me your tired, your poor … your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”
A young Italian woman arrives on the shores of America, her sights set on a better life. That same day, a young American woman reports to her first day of work at the immigration center. But Ellis Island isn’t a refuge for Francesca or Alma, not when ships depart every day with those who are refused entry to the country and when corruption ripples through every corridor. While Francesca resorts to desperate measures to ensure she will make it off the island, Alma fights for her dreams of becoming a translator, even as women are denied the chance.
As the two women face the misdeeds of a system known to manipulate and abuse immigrants searching for new hope in America, they form an unlikely friendship―and share a terrible secret―altering their fates and the lives of the immigrants who come after them.
This is a novel of the dark secrets of Ellis Island, when entry to “the land of the free” promised a better life but often delivered something drastically different, and when immigrant strength and female friendship found ways to triumph even on the darkest days.
Inspired by true events and for fans of Kristina McMorris and Hazel Gaynor, The Next Ship Home holds up a mirror to our own times, deftly questioning America’s history of prejudice and exclusion while also reminding us of our citizens’ singular determination.
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In 1902, Francesca Ricci and her sister, Maria are leaving their only home they've ever known and their abusive father in Sicily aboard a ship to the USA. With no one to meet them and no jobs lined up, the Ricci sisters are hoping for a miracle upon their arrival. Alma Bauer works at her family bierhaus, but her stepfather wants her to bring in more income. He finds Alma a job at Ellis Island with the matrons. At first, Alma does not want to help the immigrants, but she finds purpose in translating and helping people. Alma is taken by the Ricci sister's cause, especially after Francesca helps her. Alma decides to help Francesca stay in the USA and not have to go home on the next ship home. As Alma and Francesca's lives intertwine, they help each other more than they could imagine.
The Next Ship Home is a sweeping historical fiction novel of Ellis Island. Webb's beautiful writing sets the scene of chaos, confusion, hope, sadness and enchantment that makes up Ellis Island. Francesca and Alma came alive as their stories unfolded. They saw themselves as very different but found strength in their friendship and were both able to learn and grow as people and women in America. I was amazed at their ability to overcome a series of situations that seemed impossible and loved the way that their stories were linked together. Through Francesca and Alma, the many types of oppression of women were explored: from exploitation, abuse, rape, non-consensual marriages, and reliance upon men for basic needs. I have always adored Webb's writing and the way that real historical information is weaved in throughout. Through the story, I learned of the drama of the commissioners of Ellis Island and the rampant mistreatment of immigrants that came through. With that, I also learned of the movements that immigrants and the people of New York were able to create from their struggles including the labor movement, the subway system, and women's rights.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Heather Webb is the USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction. In 2017, LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS won the Women’s Fiction Writers Association award, and in 2019, MEET ME IN MONACO was shortlisted for both the RNA award in the UK and also the Digital Book World Fiction prize.
Up and coming, Heather’s new solo novel called THE NEXT SHIP HOME: A NOVEL OF ELLIS ISLAND is about unlikely friends that confront a corrupt system altering their fates and the lives of the immigrants who come after them, and it releases in Feb 2022. Also, look for her third collaboration with her beloved writing partner, Hazel Gaynor, THREE WORDS FOR GOODBYE, releasing this July! (2021)
When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills, geeks out on pop culture and history, or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world.
For more information, please visit Heather’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.