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Challenging Stories Book Club



Challenging Stories Book Club is pleased to present:


To Hope and Back:

The Journey of the St. Louis


By award-winning author, Kathy Kacer

in conversation with educator, Cindy Kozierok

Access Resources from the Livestream

Questions? Please contact

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Buy the Book at 50% off
Use the Code: LIB75
Offer ends March 15, 2023

The story of the St. Louis, an ocean liner carrying over 900 Jews fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe that was turned away at every port – including Canada’s.


Young Lisa and Sol are amongst the 937 Jewish passengers who boarded the luxury ocean liner St. Louis in Hamburg, Germany on May 13, 1939. Lisa, with her family in first class, and Sol, with his below in tourist class, share mixed feelings about the trip. Though war has not yet been declared, Nazi persecution of Jews in Germany has been escalating for years and when the St. Louis sets sail for Cuba hopes run high as the passengers believe they are on their way to safety. Though the ship's German captain is determined to find safe harbour for his passengers, he is ultimately helpless. First Cuba turns them away, then the United States and Canada both close their doors to the St. Louis.


Denied entry from port after port, the Captain was forced to return his passengers to Europe, where many died in the Holocaust. This was the tragic true history of the St. Louis. Through the eyes of Sol and Lisa – both of whom survived the war and shared their experiences with Kathy Kacer – we see the injustice and heartbreak caused by the prejudice and ignorance of so many. In 2011 the monument called "The Wheel of Conscience" was opened at Pier 21, Canada's immigration museum in Halifax, to acknowledge Canada's role in the tragedy.


Featuring: Kathy Kacer

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Kathy Kacer has won many awards for her writing, including the Silver Birch, the Red Maple, the Hackmatack, and the Jewish Book Award. In 1999 she wrote her first book in Second Story Press' Holocaust Remembrance Series for Young Readers, The Secret of Gabi's Dresser. Since then she has penned over 25 other books for young readers, including The Underground Reporters, Clara's War, The Night Spies, Hiding Edith, The Diary of Laura's Twin, To Look a Nazi in the Eye, The Brushmaker's Daughter, Under the Iron Bridge, and Hidden on the High Wire. She is the editor of We Are Their Voice: Young People Respond to the Holocaust. She also wrote two children's picture books: The Magician of Auschwitz, illustrated by Gillian Newland, and The Brave Princess and Me, illustrated by Juliana Kolesova.


A former psychologist, Kathy now travels the world speaking about her books and the need to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive. She also addresses adults about how to teach sensitive material to young children. Kathy Kacer lives in Toronto and is available for school and library readings, workshops, and presentations.


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