Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Strong Learning ~ A Review


Bessie's Pillow published by Strong Learning, Inc. is a book worth reading. The book is based on the true story of Bessie Markman Dreizen, a young Jewish immigrant, escaping the horrific persecution of Jews in Lithuania and her search for a better life in America.


The book is divided into 3 main sections:
Prologue: New Rocelle 1950
Part One: Leaving Home 1906-1908
Part Two: New Rochelle 1908-1925
Part Three: Going On 1925-1936
Afterword & Bessie's America

I love reading and am drawn to historical books of any kind.  Bessie's Pillow was one of those books that once I started I reading I could not put down. My 14 year old daughter devours books of any kind. We both really enjoyed this book. Bessie's Pillow is more than just a story of coming to America, it is a story about strength, resilience, and courage. The author does an amazing job at making the reader feel as if you are experiencing what is transpiring throughout the book. From horror, to sadness, defeat, and determination you will be transported back in time and come away wishing you could meet this amazing woman, Bessie. Before leaving Lithuania in 1906 at the tender age of 18, Bessie (Boshka) gets a tap on her shoulder. An acquaintance, Chana Dreizen, asks Bessie to deliver a feather pillow embroidered with flowers to her son in America. The pillow has a Yiddish phrase: May this pillow bring you peace. After reading further on into the book this phrase begins to carry significant meaning. 

Bessie's first encounter with family in America doesn't go so well. She finally settles in with Miriam and Lou, relatives who embrace her fully. Not wanting to be a burden, Bessie soon seeks employment. Her first real friend in American dies. Bessie's first job is in a factory where she is confronted with the horrors and deplorable conditions of factories. Eventually she finds more suitable employment and goes on to find Nathan, the son of Chana. The series of events begin to unfold into a beautiful love story. With love also comes tragedy. Tragedy then turns back to joy. I would so love to share more about this book but sharing more would take away from your experience as you read, Bessie's Pillow. 



teacher's resource page is available to further explore topics such as:

  • Immigration
  • Progressive Era
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Emma Lazarus
  • Immigrant Stories
  • Ellis Island
  • Relevant News of the Era
At the end of the book the Afterword includes photographs from Bessie's life. Also includes is a section entitled, Bessie's America which enrichment and historical facts.

My 14 year old said, "Once I started reading I could not put the book down. Not only was it a great story but I learned so much about history during this time period. Great book."


I enjoyed this book immensely and would highly recommend this book as a required read. I would suggest this book for middle school and above. The book would be a wonderful addition to your child's history education. My daughter is now interested in making her own embroidered pillow similar to the one in the book.





"I will not be locked up in such a room again, I will not be treated with
disrespect no matter how little money I have, I will not be a slave!"
~Bessie~

About Bessie's Pillow

  • Title: Bessie's Pillow - A Young Immigrant's Journey (Based on a true story)
  • Author: Linda Bress Silbert
  • Publisher: Strong Learning. Inc
  • ISBN: 978-0-89544-201-7
  • Copyright: 2014 
  • Pages: 290
To read more reviews click here.

Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BessiesPillow
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BessiesPillow  @BessiesPillow


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1 comment:

  1. So glad you enjoyed my grandmother's story. How's your daughter's embroidered pillow coming? I'm sure it's beautiful!

    Dr. Linda

    ReplyDelete