Sunfire Romance Novels
In the 80s, the world was lit by Sunfire!

Rachel Quick Notes

Rachel, Sunfire #21, is one of Vivian Schurfranz’s titles that I like more than dislike.

Rachel Front Cover

Front Cover Blurb: America promised her a new a life and a new love.

Back Cover Blurb: Can she be true to her heritage and to the boy she loves?

Main Character: Rachel Rothkowski, brown hair, brown eyes, turns 16 about halfway through the book. She and her family are Jewish Immigrants from Poland. As they are processed on Ellis Island, the family’s last name is changed to Roth. (Small bone to pick here: My great-grandfather came from Poland, and I grew up in a predominantly Polish Chicago neighborhood. Nothing as easy as “Rothkowski” is worthy of being changed. If their name had no vowels, or a bunch of Cs, Zs, Ks, and Ys, I’d be more likely to buy the change.) The Roths start off living with the Rosen family, who includes Rachel’s aunt and uncle and her snippy cousin, Hannah.

Suitor #1: Joshua Fine, curly black hair, blue eyes, and spectacles. He is the Rosens’ neighbor and is opening a produce store in the neighborhood. He is super conservative, hardworking, and religious. He wants Rachel to become a traditional wife and mother. He also dislikes that she went to school and attends night classes.

Suitor #2: Nathan Meyers, auburn hair, brown eyes. He’s a reporter for the New York Times. Even though he, too, is a Jewish immigrant, he’s much more open and embracing of American culture. He attends classes so he can become an American citizen. He changed his last name himself, and encourages Rachel to follow her dreams. Rachel’s traditional mother doesn’t approve of his modern ways.

Setting: New York City, August 1910 through June 1911. In addition to immigration, the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, where Rachel works, is a major focus, as well as unions.

On the Cover: I know people get a kick out of this cover, mostly over Nathan’s suit. in the middle is Rachel, looking appropriately Eastern-European. To the right is Joshua, looking really hot and not at all as described. From the description, I get more of this, only with black hair:

Hey, I always thought Percival was cute…and much more than Nellie deserved!

To the left is Nathan, looking a bit like Robert Redford in The Sting. And that suit! Oh, that glorious suit! Bottom right are Rachel and Nathan embracing (he just won’t let go of that hat, will he?) and bottom left is the Statue of Liberty, symbol of hope for the new Americans. NOTE: I can’t find a credit for the cover, but I thought it was an Iskowitz. It certainly seems much more like an Iskowitz than the Julie cover did.

Rachel Back Cover

I think Rachel is one of the better Schurfranz offerings. Sure, we still have two guys who immediately think Rachel is the greatest thing since sliced bread; we still have the bitter enemy who becomes best friend in Hannah, and we still have the “checking out my own gorgeous face and newly blossomed yet still petite figure in the mirror” scene. But there’s also a lot of good history here, and Rachel herself is a likeable character. She IS very naive, as Joshua says; how else would she not figure out what cousin Hannah has against her from the start? However, she doesn’t save the world, the way a usual Schurfranz heroine would. She plays a small but personally significant part in surviving the fire, which is heartbreaking. The love of the family is predominant, and I love the circle of how the Roths start out their new life by bunking with the Rosens. Then, at the end, when the Roths are established in their own apartment, we learn they will be hosting the next batch of relatives to head over from Poland.

Significantly, there is NO Frollo character in this book!

Humph. Well, at least I get a part in Heather.

Yes, Frollo, we’ll see you again. But first we’ll get to meet the only African-American Sunfire girl, Corey.


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