Fashion historian Adlington has fictionalized a little-known aspect of Holocaust history: the existence of a sewing studio at Auschwitz where twenty-three prisoners worked.
Fourteen-year-old Ella has been in Birchwood — a fictional concentration camp based on Auschwitz-Birkenau — for three weeks when she applies for a job at the camp’s Upper Tailoring Studio. She quickly demonstrates her exemplary skills, winning an impromptu competition to sew a dress for one of the guards. Sewing becomes Ella’s way to survive. When she forms an attachment to fellow studio worker Rose, they create an unbreakable bond. This relationship forms much of the narrative’s strength.
While backmatter about the historical facts that inspired the book would have been helpful, the story is fascinating.
Recommended for ages 12 and up.
Barbara Krasner is an award-winning poet and historian who focuses her writing on the Jewish experience in America and during the Holocaust. She teaches in the history department of The College of New Jersey and serves as Director, Mercer Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Education Center.