Title: The Blood Lie
Author: Shirley Reva Vernick
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press, 2011
It's 1928. Jack Pool is 16 and desperate to move away from his small town of Massena, New York, to attend a prestigious music school in Syracuse. He is an excellent cello player and stands a good chance at his audition in a few days. But all that changes when he is accused of a terrible crime, based solely on lies and his Jewish heritage and religion. Will a town's prejudice ruin the lives of the Jewish community?
I had the pleasure of meeting with Vernick at Barnes & Noble for my teen book club the other night. We talked about how this novel is based on actual events that took place in Massena in the 1920s. What occurs in this book is scary enough, illustrating what happens when mob mentality takes over, but what is really scary is Vernick's afterward. She reports on incidents that have happened very recently; one might think that events like this won't happen in today's day and age, but it's not true. People are susceptible to rumor and will believe what they want to.
This story is very short and simply written, but the ideas within it are not something to be glossed over. The hatred within the pages is frightening enough, but what I found more appalling was the indifference the instigators of the rumor showed toward their victims. They simply capitalized on the prejudice that already existed in the community, basically just lighting the fuse.
Everything is completely realistic, and as Vernick told me, there is no Hollywood ending. It's as close to the real story as she could make it, and the characters realize what horrors lie within our world.