Zdena Berger calls her book an “autobiographical novel,” a designation that allows the author to interpret her experiences and move back a bit from the reality of her life. Tania is a teenage girl living in Prague who becomes a prisoner in Theresienstadt. Tania has two friends, Eva and Ilse, who eventually go on the Death March with her and who help each other throughout the story. When Eva is overcome with fever, the others drag her to the side and pretend she is just sleeping to keep her from being killed. Ilse charms the guards to learn many secrets and tricks to help them. As they walk through villages on the March, a young girl tosses an apple. Tania picks it up. She passes a bite to the girl walking in front of her, revealing to the reader how even in this awful time, some kindness is possible. The author presents an unsentimental view of the horrors experienced in the camps. Yet, even through what seems an impossible ordeal, hope is the final emotion.
Erin Cantor is an interior designer, teacher of reading and math to third-graders, and a returned Peace Corps volunteer.