Based on a true story, this riveting book chronicles a young woman’s heroic efforts to hide Jews during the war. At thirteen, Stefania (“Fusia”) Podgórska, a Polish Catholic girl, leaves her impoverished, rural home to work in a shop owned by the Diamants, a Jewish family in Przemsyl, Poland. Over the next three years, Fusia grows close to Mr. and Mrs. Diamant and their sons. After the Germans invade in 1939, Fusia moves in with the family until they are forced to relocate to a ghetto. Fusia works to sell goods, putting herself in danger in order to procure money, often sneaking into the ghetto to provide the Diamant family with food. Additionally, Fusia is left to care for her young sister Helena after their mother is forced to relocate to a German work camp.
When Max Diamant, one of the sons, escapes a labor camp, Fusia takes on the harrowing task of hiding Max and several other family members and friends. Fusia rents a house, Tatarska 3, where she and Helena work tirelessly to hide thirteen Jews. Fusia even procures a job and sells items on the black market to provide for the group. Constantly under threat, tensions rise even higher when the SS occupy the neighborhood, even residing in Tatarska 3 for a period of time. Although the thirteen Jews survived the war (Fusia and Max eventually marry) the story is intense and full of close calls, depicting the thin line between life and death and the risks that Fusia and Helena faced. Sharon Cameron depicts a spark of hope and kinship amid the darkness, underscoring Fusia’s tenacity, determination and spirit.
The book weaves through time periods, offering a well-rounded sense of Fusia’s experiences. An insightful author’s note includes photos, documents, and more background information on Stefania. Cameron nobly adds to a meaningful legacy by sharing a story that must never be lost or forgotten.