Jeni Paltiel

Across the Sea by Jeni Paltiel

Instead of finishing her senior year of high school in Kansas, Ellie is risking the trip across an Atlantic already at war to join her missionary father in Africa. August is a Boston Brahmin taking a break from Harvard to chase adventure as a volunteer ambulance driver in the war in North Africa like his hero, Ernest Hemingway.

Thrown together on board the Egyptian passenger liner Zamzam, Ellie finds herself drawn to the dashing August despite their different backgrounds and her family’s disapproval, as conflict brews between the pious missionaries and the boisterous ambulance corps. But unbeknownst to most of its passengers, the Zamzam is actually transporting supplies to the Allied forces in North Africa. When their supposedly neutral ship is sunk by a notorious German raider, Ellie and August find themselves facing a far greater danger than a disapproving mother.

Plucked from the ocean, stashed on a German prison ship, and forced to run the British Blockade to reach land, the couple is ultimately separated in Occupied France, as Ellie is shipped back to the States while August remains a German prisoner. Do they stand a chance of being reunited?

Based on true events from the author’s family history that grabbed headlines in 1941, Across the Sea blends The Nightingale’s war-time adventure with a sweet travel-inspired YA love story reminiscent of Field Notes on Love and moments of surprising humor, as experiences force Ellie to grow up fast and question her sheltered upbringing and what she wants from life.


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