Lida and her sister, Larissa, kidnapped from their Ukrainian village by the Nazis in 1943, are separated in the first chapter of this powerful wartime story and the book follows older sister Lida as she worries about Larissa and tries to survive the horrors of a slave labor camp. She is aware of the plight of the Jews; her mother had tried to save a Jewish girl and had been shot for it and one of her fellow inmates is also Jewish, unbeknownst to their captors. Both girls know that that discovery of this fact will lead to immediate death. The situation of prisoners like Lida was not, of course, the same as that of Jews in concentration camps but it was harsh and terrifying and this piece of history is not widely known. One of Lida’s main tasks was the assembling of bombs for the use of the German war effort and she makes an effort to sabotage as many bombs as she can. Somehow Lida manages to survive and is reunited with her sister whose story is told in a companion volume, Stolen Child. This book is gritty, raw and excellently written and tells the story in a memorable way. It is recommended for ages 9 – 14.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.