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Reese Witherspoon's YA Book Club Pick for December!
The extraordinary story of Stefania Podg rska, a Polish teenager who chose bravery and humanity by hiding thirteen Jews in her attic during WWII -- from #1 New York Times bestselling author Sharon Cameron.
One knock at the door, and Stefania has a choice to make...
It is 1943, and for four years, sixteen-year-old Stefania has been working for the Diamant family in their grocery store in Przemysl, Poland, singing her way into their lives and hearts. She has even made a promise to one of their sons, Izio -- a betrothal they must keep secret since she is Catholic and the Diamants are Jewish.
But everything changes when the German army invades Przemysl. The Diamants are forced into the ghetto, and Stefania is alone in an occupied city, the only one left to care for Helena, her six-year-old sister. And then comes the knock at the door. Izio's brother Max has jumped from the train headed to a death camp. Stefania and Helena make the extraordinary decision to hide Max, and eventually twelve more Jews. Then they must wait, every day, for the next knock at the door, the one that will mean death. When the knock finally comes, it is two Nazi officers, requisitioning Stefania's house for the German army.
With two Nazis below, thirteen hidden Jews above, and a little sister by her side, Stefania has one more excruciating choice to make.
- ISBN-13: 9781338355932
- ISBN-10: 1338355937
- Publisher: Scholastic Press
- Publish Date: March 2020
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.05 pounds
- Page Count: 400
- Reading Level: Ages 13-17
The Light in Hidden Places
Sharon Cameron’s The Light in Hidden Places is based on the true story of Holocaust heroine Stefania Podgórska, a 16-year-old Catholic girl in Poland who not only took care of her younger sister but also hid 13 Jewish people in the attic of her tiny apartment.
In order to tell Stefania’s story, Cameron (The Dark Unwinding, The Knowing) did extensive research, which included interviewing several of the attic’s survivors, gaining access to Stefania’s unpublished memoir and traveling with Stefania’s son to Poland. There, they visited the places in which this incredible tale unfolded. Cameron saw for herself the minuscule, cramped space where 13 people cowered for more than two years with no electricity, water or toilet, and which Stefania and her sister could only access via a ladder to bring them food and water and carry out their waste in buckets.
What’s more, an SS officer lived in an adjacent apartment for months, and by the end of the war, two German nurses had moved into Stefania’s apartment. The nurses often brought their SS boyfriends home for the night, making Stefania feel like she was not only secretly and illegally hiding Jewish people but also “running a Nazi boarding house.”
Cameron’s wide-ranging research and deft storytelling abilities combine to create an astoundingly authentic first-person narration. Her exquisite prose conveys in riveting detail exactly what it was like for Stefania to live through the horrors she witnessed, as well as the difficult decisions that had to be made by both survivors and those who did not, ultimately, survive.
Though it at times reads like a memoir, The Light in Hidden Places is a tense and gripping novel, full of urgency, in which death seems to wait around every corner. Although it’s still early in the year, it seems destined for my list of the best books of 2020.