Is It Night or Day? by Fern Schumer Chapman is a moving story of Edith Westerfeld’s childhood immigration journey from Nazi Germany. It is the prequel to the award-winning young adult readers book, “Motherland”.
In 1938, torn apart from her family and friends, her village and everything she has ever known, 12 year old Edith Westerfeld, the author’s mother was sent alone to America as her parents struggle to survive and follow her.
Is it Night or Day? explores immigration, Americanization, friendship and identity formation. It sheds light on a little know program called, “One Thousand Children that were rescued European children from the Holocaust. Edith Westerfeld was one of two Jewish families living in her small German village of Stockstadt. She and her sister were sent separately, a year apart, to the United States to escape. Edith was sent to Chicago, her sister was sent to Seattle. She was hopeful that she would be able to see her sister and parents again.
Sent to live with a hostile Aunt who makes Edith her servant, the young girl desperately seeks to understand who she is in this new world. Told in Edith’s voice the novel captures both the specific fears of a child fleeing Nazi Germany and the more general experiences of immigrants adjusting to life in a new country. Schumer Chapman takes the reader on this emotional journey where you feel and identify with Edith’s fear, loneliness and loss. Her parents do not survive.