Europe is in flames Nazis are at the gates of the city and the Chernofsky family’s only chance for escape rests firmly on the slim shoulders of seventeen-year-old Lilli. With war at their doorstep Lilli Chernofsky flees Lithuania with her brother Aaron and a group of yeshiva students. Along with other Jewish refugees Lilli makes a home in the ghettos of Shanghai. Though they managed to escape the horror in Europe they are now faced with starvation subhuman conditions and violence at the hands of Japanese soldiers in Shanghai. Lilli Chernofsky provides a portal to history a glimpse into the lives of ordinary people in tragic circumstances.
The mystery of who people really are, what they will do in adversity survive honorably or by betraying others is at the novel’s heart, but it is young Lilli’s startling metamorphosis from sheltered teen to unwavering heroine that is its cri de coeur.