Heather Webb is such an incredibly gifted writer. I have read and loved many of her novels, she has written independent novels and cowritten novels with Hazel Gaynor. All of them have been wonderful reads and I always look forward to her upcoming novels. This book was obviously no different. I had this one on my radar for months!
When I was a little girl I was fascinated by Ellis Island. I recall learning about is in 5th grade and really romanticizing the idea of coming to a completely new country and having to navigate a new culture, in many cases a new language, and to try and make a home. I think I watched the film Fievel Goes West a million times as a kid and as I got older, other films like Far and Away, Titanic and The Godfather II because I was so interested in this time period and immigration. Even as an adult, I focused a large part of my masters degree to western migration and the Oregon Trail during the mid to late 1800s with Ellis Island being a key part of my research.
Obviously this book is HIGH up on my TBR list and I couldn’t wait to dive in and start reading but I held off so that I could savor it and enjoy it rather than burn through it too quick. I easily could have read this one in one sitting but I did draw it out so that I could savor it because it was just a great read and I love Webb’s prose!
Ellis Island, 1902: Two women band together to hold America to its promise: “Give me your tired, your poor…”
Ellis Island, 1902. Francesca arrives on the shores of America, her sights set on a better life than the one she left in Italy. That same day, aspiring linguist Alma reports to her first day of work at the immigrant processing center. Ellis, though, is not the refuge it first appears thanks to President Roosevelt’s attempts to deter crime. Francesca and Alma will have to rely on each other to escape its corruption and claim the American dreams they were promised.
A thoughtful historical inspired by true events, this novel probes America’s history of prejudice and exclusion—when entry at Ellis Island promised a better life but often delivered something drastically different, immigrants needed strength, resilience, and friendship to fight for their futures. (summary from Goodreads)
As predicted, this one caught my attention the same way I was fascinated by immigration and Ellis Island when I was in 5th grade. It drew me in and I just loved the idea of this novel so much instantly! I thought Webb did a marvelous job capturing the atmosphere that many immigrants might have encountered when they made the decision to come to America. There is something about the spirit of an immigrant that just pulls me in and makes the character incredibly compelling before I even have a chance to really get to know them. Sometimes it takes me a bit to get into a character and just feel what they are all about before I feel invested in them, but with this book I was immediately interested in Francesca and what would drive her to board a ship from Italy to America. As we get into the story her reasons are made known and the reader will no doubt fall more and more in love with her character because of it. Francesca is brave and I just adored her and thought Webb did an excellent job capturing the spirit of immigrants with her character!
I especially loved how this book focused on the struggles that female immigrants faced during this time. I don’t recall a lot of books that I have read that focus so much on the immigration and female perspective so this one feels unique. In films like Far and Away or The Godfather II, the focus has always been male dominated and I really appreciated seeing a strong female voice and story in the pages of this book. I was completely invited in the novel, characters, story, and above all the history!
This one was quite the page turner for me because I just loved the history and all the other compelling aspects of the story and characters. As I mentioned earlier I could have read this in one sitting but I wanted to draw it out to savor it and I am glad I did. There is a lot of emotion and history that I think readers will want to unpack and won’t want to miss or breeze through. If you are a historical fiction fan then you absolutely need to read this book. It’s wonderfully written and so so so wonderful!
Book Info and Rating
Format: 432 pages paperback
Publication” Expected publication February 8th 2022 by Sourcebooks Landmark
Free review copy provided by publisher, SourceBooks Landmark in partnership with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: historical fiction
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“With meticulous research and deft prose, Heather Webb crafts an unflinching look at the immigrant experience, an unlikely and unique friendship, and a resonant story of female empowerment. The Next Ship Home is truly a beautiful and powerful book.” — Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman with the Blue Star
“Powerful and poignant, The Next Ship Home shines a literary light on Ellis Island’s dark history, where the prejudices of the past often sit uncomfortably close to the present. Written with a clear passion for the subject matter, Webb captures the injustices, suffering, hope and determination of a generation of immigrants. Francesca and Alma roar from the page, and leave the reader caring for them deeply. A richly imagined novel, and a must-read for fans of historical fiction. Brava!” — Hazel Gaynor, New York Times bestselling author of When We Were Young & Brave
“The Next Ship Home is a wonderfully immersive novel that kept me engrossed from the first page to the last. Through a seamless tale of immigrants, corruption, resilience, and hope, Webb illuminates a dark side of America too often lost to history. An important, timely read featuring a cast I loved to root for.” — Kristina McMorris, New York Times bestselling author of Sold on a Monday
“The insightful historical details delving into the Ellis Island immigration process make this novel essential reading for anyone yearning to understand the roots of the American Experience. Highly recommended.” — Kris Waldherr, author of The Lost History of Dreams
“Reading this story is like stepping back in time to the gut-churning experience of arriving at Ellis Island in 1902 and being willing to do anything for a shot at a fresh start in a new country. The Next Ship Home serves as a powerful and humbling reminder about the courage it takes to start over.” — Elise Hooper, author of Fast Girls and Angels of the Pacific
“Centered around Ellis Island—symbol of America’s greatest hopes and scene of some of her greatest travesties—The Next Ship Home is the heart-wrenching story of two young women fighting for freedom and independence. In this timely and utterly immersive story, Webb unflinchingly exposes the prejudice, sexism, and corruption rampant with the immigration system of the times while still weaving in hope that we can do and be better.” — Kerry Anne King, bestselling author of Whisper Me This and Everything You Are
“The Next Ship Home is one of the rare stories that will nestle itself in your soul and make a home there. Heather Webb creates two remarkable, endearing heroines that you will root for from beginning to end. Her depiction of Ellis Island and turn-of-the-century New York is lush with meticulously researched detail. But most striking, Webb tackles the thorny and complex issues of immigration and workers’ rights with sensitivity and grace. Her message is compassionate and timely, and I was blown away by how deftly Webb weaves it through Alma and Francesca’s stories. The Next Ship Home deserves a place as one of the great books of the American Experience.” — Aimie K. Runyan, international bestselling author of Across the Winding River and Daughters of the Night Sky
About the Author
Heather Webb is the USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction. In 2017, LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS won the Women’s Fiction Writers Association award, and in 2019, MEET ME IN MONACO was shortlisted for both the RNA award in the UK and also the Digital Book World Fiction prize.
Up and coming, Heather’s new solo novel called THE NEXT SHIP HOME: A NOVEL OF ELLIS ISLAND is about unlikely friends that confront a corrupt system altering their fates and the lives of the immigrants who come after them, and it releases in Feb 2022. Also, look for her third collaboration with her beloved writing partner, Hazel Gaynor, THREE WORDS FOR GOODBYE, releasing this July! (2021)
When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills, geeks out on pop culture and history, or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, January 31
Kick-off at Passages to the Past
Saturday, February 5
Review at Girl Who Reads
Sunday, February 6
Interview at Reading is My Remedy
Tuesday, February 8
Review at Booking With Janelle