The Next Ship Home: A Novel of Ellis Island (Paperback)
"An unflinching look at the immigrant experience, an unlikely and unique friendship, and a resonant story of female empowerment."—Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman with the Blue Star
Ellis Island, 1902: Two women band together to hold America to its promise: "Give me your tired, your poor ... your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."
A young Italian woman arrives on the shores of America, her sights set on a better life. That same day, a young American woman reports to her first day of work at the immigration center. But Ellis Island isn't a refuge for Francesca or Alma, not when ships depart every day with those who are refused entry to the country and when corruption ripples through every corridor. While Francesca resorts to desperate measures to ensure she will make it off the island, Alma fights for her dreams of becoming a translator, even as women are denied the chance.
As the two women face the misdeeds of a system known to manipulate and abuse immigrants searching for new hope in America, they form an unlikely friendship—and share a terrible secret—altering their fates and the lives of the immigrants who come after them.
This is a novel of the dark secrets of Ellis Island, when entry to "the land of the free" promised a better life but often delivered something drastically different, and when immigrant strength and female friendship found ways to triumph even on the darkest days.
Inspired by true events and for fans of Kristina McMorris and Hazel Gaynor, The Next Ship Home holds up a mirror to our own times, deftly questioning America's history of prejudice and exclusion while also reminding us of our citizens' singular determination.
"With meticulous research and deft prose, Heather Webb crafts an unflinching look at the immigrant experience, an unlikely and unique friendship, and a resonant story of female empowerment. The Next Ship Home is truly a beautiful and powerful book." — Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman with the Blue Star
"Powerful and poignant, The Next Ship Home shines a literary light on Ellis Island's dark history, where the prejudices of the past often sit uncomfortably close to the present. Written with a clear passion for the subject matter, Webb captures the injustices, suffering, hope and determination of a generation of immigrants. Francesca and Alma roar from the page, and leave the reader caring for them deeply. A richly imagined novel, and a must-read for fans of historical fiction. Brava!" — Hazel Gaynor, New York Times bestselling author of When We Were Young & Brave
"Reading this story is like stepping back in time to the gut-churning experience of arriving at Ellis Island in 1902 and being willing to do anything for a shot at a fresh start in a new country. The Next Ship Home serves as a powerful and humbling reminder about the courage it takes to start over." — Elise Hooper, author of Fast Girls and Angels of the Pacific
"The insightful historical details delving into the Ellis Island immigration process make this novel essential reading for anyone yearning to understand the roots of the American Experience. Highly recommended." — Kris Waldherr, author of The Lost History of Dreams
"Centered around Ellis Island—symbol of America's greatest hopes and scene of some of her greatest travesties—The Next Ship Home is the heart-wrenching story of two young women fighting for freedom and independence. In this timely and utterly immersive story, Webb unflinchingly exposes the prejudice, sexism, and corruption rampant with the immigration system of the times while still weaving in hope that we can do and be better." — Kerry Anne King, bestselling author of Whisper Me This and Everything You Are
"The Next Ship Home is one of the rare stories that will nestle itself in your soul and make a home there. Heather Webb creates two remarkable, endearing heroines that you will root for from beginning to end. Her depiction of Ellis Island and turn-of-the-century New York is lush with meticulously researched detail. But most striking, Webb tackles the thorny and complex issues of immigration and workers' rights with sensitivity and grace. Her message is compassionate and timely, and I was blown away by how deftly Webb weaves it through Alma and Francesca's stories. The Next Ship Home deserves a place as one of the great books of the American Experience." — Aimie K. Runyan, international bestselling author of Across the Winding River and Daughters of the Night Sky