Title: The Next Ship Home
Author: Heather Webb
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publish Date: February 8, 2022
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "Ellis Island, 1902. Francesca arrives on the shores of America, her sights set on a better life than the one she left in Italy. That same day, aspiring linguist Alma reports to her first day of work at the immigrant processing center. Ellis, though, is not the refuge it first appears thanks to President Roosevelt's attempts to deter crime. Francesca and Alma will have to rely on each other to escape its corruption and claim the American dreams they were promised.
A thoughtful historical inspired by true events, this novel probes America's history of prejudice and exclusion—when entry at Ellis Island promised a better life but often delivered something drastically different, immigrants needed strength, resilience, and friendship to fight for their futures."
What's the Story?:
Heather Webb is on my auto-read list and has been for a long time. Every time she comes out with a new book, I know that I am in for a wonderful, fully engaging story. This book is no different! "The Next Ship Home" is a richly detailed story about two women, Francesca and Alma, in early 1900s New York City. These two women from very different places will cross paths in very surprising ways during a tumultuous time period in American history.
The character building in the book is really fantastic and I loved how real Webb was able to make both women feel. Francesca is running from a terrible past in her native Italy. She is willing to brave the unknown just to try to free herself and her sister from what would certainly be a terrible future. But is the unknown always better than a terrible known?
Alma is a young woman trying to break free of being so tightly reliant on her family so she takes a job at Ellis Island. The work is hard and often emotionally draining as she sees people from across the world coming to America to find a better life. Will Alma ever truly have a life of her own design? Alma and Francesca end up being pulled together and linked throughout the story in ways that neither of them expect. The secondary characters are really amazing as well and I am totally pulling for a follow on story about Francesca and what happens after this book ends (no spoilers!!!).
The setting is almost its own character in the book. Ellis Island is a fascinating place and I love New York (who doesn't?). I believe this is one of the first histfic books that I have read about Ellis Island and I loved how Webb was able to capture the tumult of what it would have been like to go through Ellis Island during its heyday.
Overall, this was a great story that had me captivated! This is one of the best books that I have read so far this year and I cannot wait to see what else Heather Webb comes out with in the future!