Gail Carson Levine
I’ve always loved Gail Carson Levine’s stories, so was so excited to read her new book when I heard about it. A Ceiling Made of Eggshells follows a young girl Jewish named Paloma or “Loma”, who lives during the Spanish Inquisition. This is Gail Carson Levine’s second historical fiction book, the first being Dave at Night, both based on some aspect of her father’s history.
I don’t know very much about the Spanish Inquisition, and I found it very interesting to learn about the events that transpired from this particular point of view. It was particularly interesting to see the relationships between people of different religions. Gail Carson Levine accurately shed light on the fact that anti-semitism existed long before World War II and the Holocaust. I didn’t know that all Jewish people were expelled from Spain, and I think that the play on the school rhyme in the first chapter helped give perspective of the time frame.
“Columbus sailed the ocean blue
in fourteen hundred and ninety two
and in the self-same year, it’s true,
Spain’s king and queen expelled the Jews“
This book is in many ways on the younger end of the middle grade spectrum, with a main character that is only seven years old at the beginning of the book. However, she is older by the end, and some of the events that take place might be difficult for very young readers to understand.
The reason I rated this three stars was that during almost the entire first half of the book, very little actually happens. The conflict of Loma feeling like her grandmother could have lived if she had not given her the amulet is resolved fairly early on, and after that point now much happens until Loma is older and realizes that Belo expects her to continue traveling with him for the rest of her life, even though that has never been what she has wanted. I felt like this gap made it difficult to be as fully engaged in the story, particularly because the character voice is a bit simple as Loma is very young.
Overall, I would say that this was not my favorite Gail Carson Levine book, but it did have some interesting elements about a less spoken-about time period.