Ripped Away transports readers to another time, when Jack the Ripper roamed the streets of London leaving community members frightened and suspicious of each other. And with those suspicions, antisemitic actions and accusations grew.
We experience the story through the eyes of Abe and Mitzy, reluctant friends who find themselves transported from their middle school life in the United States to 1880s London, where they have new identities and new families. As the murder spree ensues, the kids experience first hand the turning tide of hate against Jewish immigrants, all the while trying to discover how to get back home.
Vernick’s writing vividly depicts the streets of London, the grimy living conditions of the city’s working class, and the fear of unjust persecution from a child’s perspective. She balances the grittiness of the circumstances with the age of her audience, letting the characters come across the scenes of the crimes while maintaining distance from the crime itself.
A good read for those who have long outgrown The Magic Treehouse series, Ripped Away can open a child’s eyes to the treatment of immigrants to a community under stress.