Ah, back to 1942 and World War 2. It's been three weeks since my last historical fiction novel set in this period. It's with a heavy heart that I recommend this book. I don't want these things to have happened and yet here we are. We see the true suffering of all the victims of the Nazi regime.
As the author points out in her endnotes this story has three parts, just like the story of Hansel and Gretel. Twins Chaim and Gittel's story begins in the ghetto, moves to the forest, and ends in the camp. Chaim is a poet and speaks as little as possible even though it is through his eyes that this story is told. His poetry is one of the highlights of the book. Gittel's story is told as well with her more analytical point of view and it is through her that we hear the conclusion of the story.
It is remarkable how much I felt like I was a fly on the wall while reading this. Both teens voices were authentic and all the characters behaved just as you would imagine that you would in a similar horrifying situation. I'd save this one for older teens not only because of the graphic content of the true horror of Nazi work camps and doctors like Mendel but because of the tremendous sadness. This is a very heavy book in every sense of the phrase. The stories must be told, and the readers have a duty to ensure that these horrors never take place again, but the reader needs a certain amount of readiness for the material. I know that my 12yo is nowhere near ready for this book.
Please note that I received a free advance E ARC of this book from Edelweiss and Penguin Random House without a review requirement or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that, I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.