When the Angels Left the Old Country

Levine Querido. Oct. 2022. 400p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781646141760.
Gr 9 Up–In a tiny village so small it’s only known as Shtetl (the word for town), an angel and a demon have been studying the Torah together for a very long time. Little Ash, the demon, however, wants to know why all the young people are moving to America. He manages to convince the angel, who agrees partly to help Samuel the Baker’s daughter, who hasn’t been heard from since she traveled across the sea, and partly to watch over Little Ash and prevent him from causing any mischief. The angel is immediately unsuccessful at stopping Little Ash’s mischief, but finds that perhaps the baker’s daughter is in some trouble after all. When the angel gets a name and matching papers to board a ship, it starts to change, and its feelings towards Little Ash change as well. There, they meet another immigrant who needs their help, but can an angel and a demon really protect Jewish immigrants from antisemitic sentiment, greedy factory owners, and a dybbuk? Getting to America is only half the battle, and the angel, now known as Uriel, must protect the people it has come to care for, while Little Ash does it in his own fashion.
VERDICT A must-buy for any collection, Lamb’s historical fiction novel brings soft queer joy to a compelling tale of immigrants and unions and Jewish folklore.

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