An unusual setting 1778 Prague offsets mediocre characterizations in this debut novel. The heroine, 15-year-old Rivka, longs for a glimpse of the world beyond the Jewish ghetto, a yearning intensified when her older brother leaves to study at a yeshiva in Poland (it´s not forbidden for Jews to travel outside the ghetto, provided they´re wearing the requisite yellow patch, but it´s unacceptable for a girl to venture out alone). Her sympathetic father, an affluent doctor, allows her to accompany him on an errand to the university. The hostility from the outside world that her friends have reported eludes her, somewhat unbelievably (´´People had looked at her, but that seemed natural, as she was wearing the special patch´´), and her curiosity is aroused. Risking her reputation (and imperiling her widely envied, carefully arranged engagement to Oskar Kara), Rivka dresses up in boys´ clothing and sneaks out of the ghetto, not once but several times. In her wanderings she meets young Mikul, who faces imprisonment over his late mother´s debts; the injustice of his plight arouses her sympathy, and she does not understand why her father, so steadfast in his efforts to help other Jews, is unwilling to aid Mikul. Within the scope of historical fiction about Jews, it´s rare and refreshing to encounter a community in a state of relative peace, and Rivka´s questions about God and the role of the Jews are powerful. But Rivka herself seems very much a contemporary being, only superficially affected by the culture of her time and place, and therefore neither entirely convincing nor commanding.