cover image A Faraway Island

A Faraway Island

Annika Thor, , trans. from the Swedish by Linda Schenck. . Delacorte, $16.99 (247pp) ISBN 978-0-385-73617-6

Twelve-year-old Stephie and eight-year-old Nellie Steiner, two Jewish sisters, are forced to leave their home and their parents in Vienna when the Nazis invade, and are placed with different families on an unfamiliar Swedish island (“Gray-brown cliffs and rocks extend along the edge of the ocean.... The end of the world , Stephie thinks. This must be the end of the world ”). While their parents plan to meet up with them in a few months to escape to America, as time passes and the war advances, hope begins to fade. Adapting to Swedish life is easy and fun for Nellie, but Stephie struggles with the chilly disposition of her caretaker, Aunt Märta. She is a good student, taking to the Swedish language quickly, but she remains an outsider in school. Throughout the year Stephie suffers hardships big and small, and is conflicted after she and her sister are baptized Pentecostal. Thor's debut novel, inspired by true events and first in a series of four books, depicts a vivid and sometimes frightening picture of life as a WWII refugee, as well as the complexities of sisterhood. Ages 8–12. (Nov.)