"As superbly written as it is haunting in its truth." --Kate Breslin, best-selling author of For Such a Time
Zosia Lewandowska knows the brutal realities of war all too well. Within weeks of Germany's invasion of her Polish homeland, she lost the man she loves. As ghetto walls rise and the occupiers tighten their grip on the city of Krakow, Zosia joins pharmacist Tadeusz Pankiewicz and his staff in the heart of the Krakow ghetto as they risk their lives to aid the Jewish people trapped by Nazi oppression.
Hania Silverman's carefree girlhood is shattered as her family is forced into the ghetto. Struggling to survive in a world hemmed in by walls and rife with cruelty and despair, she encounters Zosia, her former neighbor, at the pharmacy. As deportation winnow the ghetto's population and snatch those she holds dear, Hania's natural resiliency is exhausted by reality.
Zodia and Hania's lives intertwine as they face the griefs and fears thrust upon them by war, until one day, they are forced to make a desperate choice . . . one that will inexorably bind them together, even as they are torn apart.
Amanda Barratt's meticulous research and lush, award-winning writing shine once again in this moving look at a group of unsung heroes who fought for hope and humanity in the most harrowing of times.
"An unflinching tale that implores readers to stop and see, not a massive crowd of people, but individual hearts and souls. This book will linger in your heart and mind long after you've read the final page." --Amanda Cox, Christy Award-winning author of The Edge of Belonging
This tense WWII historical from Barratt (My Dearest Dietrich) follows a woman's efforts to help her neighbors survive the Kraków ghetto. Zosia Lewandowska is a widow living in Kraków, Poland, when the Nazis crack down on the local Jewish community in the early 1940s. Caught up in the Nazis' brutality are Zosia's neighbors, the Silbermans, who are forced to move to the ghetto. Confronted with rumors of the suffering going on there, Zosia seizes an opportunity to work at a pharmacy in the ghetto and joins a small group of civilians who organize to smuggle food and medicine to those trapped inside. As efforts to "liquidate" the ghetto accelerate, Zosia teams up with the Silbermans' eldest daughter, Hania, to help the family escape while Zosia grapples with how to live up to her Christian morals in the face of atrocities. The narrow focus on Zosia, Hania, and their associates provides an intimate look at the Holocaust, capturing how faith and selflessness can persist even in dire times. Moving and effective, this inspirational finds light in the darkest of places.
Strength is not to live without fear but to live in spite of it.
There is evil and there is good and there is the space between. We are given free will to choose where we stand. Evil thrives when good men choose the space between.
This most thought provoking book is not one lightly read and then set aside. There is good to be found in spite of the immensity of evil. It never ceases to amaze me how one group of people can be so brainwashed as to believe that they are better than another. The author has walked a very fine line between the horror and the importance of showing the world what evil can and will do. The complete lack of compassion, the air of superiority, the sheer number of deaths attributed to this evil should boggle the mind of any clear thinking individual. Yet records were kept that prove the veracity of the claims, of those whose lives had no meaning.
Would we have been willing to stand in the gap, like the pharmacists in the ghetto did? Every act affirming common humanity, every risk taken to preserve a life, every moment when decency and compassion were extended mattered!
An early copy of this novel of World War II in Poland was received through Kregel Publications and NetGalley. These thoughts and impressions are my own and were in no way solicited.