The Silver Cup

By Constance Leeds
Classification
: YA Literature
Genre: Historical fiction
Age Level: 12+
Subjects:  Crusades, persecution, Christians and Jews, religion, self-discovery

Reader’s Annotation:  In medieval Germany, superstition and prejudice abound, so when young Anna takes an orphaned Jewish girl into her home, she faces open hostility from her entire village.

Summary:  The Silver Cup is set in 1095 in a small village of no more than 60 families.  The village is half a day’s travel from the city of Worms, Germany.  Anna is a hard-working 16-year-old, filled with compassion that shines through her lovely singing voice.  Unfortunately Anna’s father Gunther, still grieving for the loss of his wife, is too often away from home to conduct trading to notice much about his daughter.  Anna’s Aunt Agnes has nothing kind to say about her late sister’s daughter.  To Agnes, Anna is a burden, neither a competent housekeeper nor a worthy match for any of the young men of the village.  So there has been little joy in Anna’s life when a horrific massacre takes place in Worms.  Anna, stunned by the slaughter, rescues Leah, a young Jewish girl, and takes her into her home.  As a result, Anna is completely ostracized by her family and the rest of the village, yet discovers her first friend in Leah.  Remarkably, as she heals from her ordeal, Leah brings laughter and hope to Anna and Gunther’s home, and they each find the strength to face an uncertain future.

Notes:  This historical novel, with its engaging characters, is a great read that illuminates a kind of prejudice that persists in our modern world.
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