cover image They Went Left

They Went Left

Monica Hesse. Little, Brown, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-316-49057-3

“Lines. I am good at lines,” 18-year-old Zofia Lederman, who is Jewish, begins. She’s had to be: the Nazis’ brutal extermination of Europe’s Jews was perversely orderly and filled with rules. But Zofia is good at other things, too. Surviving, for one: after the war ends in 1945, she’s alive, largely because her skill at sewing made her of use. Keeping a promise, for another: her younger brother Abek might still be alive (she knows that the rest of their family is dead), and she’s intent on finding him, even though trauma and hope have combined to muddle her memories. Her journey takes her back to her family’s home in Poland, then to Foehrenwald, a displaced persons camp in Germany, where she meets other survivors of the war—some Jewish, some not—including the mysterious and compelling Josef, whose anger and passion Zofia finds compelling. Hesse (The War Outside) has written several YA novels that touch on WWII traumas, and this one shows her gift at coming at an oft-told story from a new angle, as well as her compelling language, characterization, and ability to fill a story with realistic details and tension. Ages 14–up. Agent: Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown. (Apr.)