The acclaimed New York Times bestselling tour de force historical mystery from Monica Hesse, the award-winning author of Girl in the Blue Coat.
Germany, 1945. The soldiers who liberated the Gross-Rosen concentration camp said the war was over, but nothing feels over to eighteen-year-old Zofia Lederman. Her body has barely begun to heal, her mind feels broken. And her life is completely shattered: Three years ago, she and her younger brother, Abek, were the only members of their family to be sent to the right, away from the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Everyone else--her parents, her grandmother, radiant Aunt Maja--they went left.
Zofia's last words to her brother were a promise: Abek to Zofia, A to Z. When I find you again, we will fill our alphabet. Now her journey to fulfill that vow takes her through Poland and Germany, and into a displaced persons camp where everyone she meets is trying to piece together a future from a painful past: Miriam, desperately searching for the twin she was separated from after they survived medical experimentation. Breine, a former heiress, who now longs only for a simple wedding with her new fiancé. And Josef, who guards his past behind a wall of secrets, and is beautiful and strange and magnetic all at once.
But the deeper Zofia digs, the more impossible her search seems. How can she find one boy in a sea of the missing? In the rubble of a broken continent, Zofia must delve into a mystery whose answers could break her--or help her rebuild her world.
"Lines. I am good at lines," 18-year-old Zofia Lederman, who is Jewish, begins. She's had to be: the Nazis' brutal extermination of Europe's Jews was perversely orderly and filled with rules. But Zofia is good at other things, too. Surviving, for one: after the war ends in 1945, she's alive, largely because her skill at sewing made her of use. Keeping a promise, for another: her younger brother Abek might still be alive (she knows that the rest of their family is dead), and she's intent on finding him, even though trauma and hope have combined to muddle her memories. Her journey takes her back to her family's home in Poland, then to Foehrenwald, a displaced persons camp in Germany, where she meets other survivors of the war some Jewish, some not including the mysterious and compelling Josef, whose anger and passion Zofia finds compelling. Hesse (The War Outside) has written several YA novels that touch on WWII traumas, and this one shows her gift at coming at an oft-told story from a new angle, as well as her compelling language, characterization, and ability to fill a story with realistic details and tension. Ages 14 up.