cover image The Woman with the Blue Star

The Woman with the Blue Star

Pam Jenoff. Park Row, $17.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-7783-8938-5

Jenoff’s spellbinding latest (after The Lost Girls of Paris) follows a Jewish family hiding from the Nazis in Kraków, Poland. Famished 18-year-old Sadie Gault’s parents insist she hide in a crawl space of their ghetto apartment in 1942, to spare her from grueling forced labor. A year later, facing intensifying raids, the family escapes into the sewer system with help from a worker who explains the tunnels and brings them food. Sadie bonds over books with the 20-something son of another family hiding with them, and their friendship blossoms into romance. Meanwhile, in a parallel narrative, a young Catholic woman named Ella Stepanek dreams of marrying her boyfriend and yearns to flee from her cruel Nazi collaborator stepmother. While running an errand at the market, Ella happens to glance down at a sewer grate in the street and sees Sadie looking up at her. Thus begins a lifesaving friendship in which both young women discover great inner resources neither one knew she possessed. Jenoff drew on a true story for this harrowing narrative, and shapes it with precise details of the subterranean world and of the city’s churches, markets, and cafes. This moving tale of young women’s will to survive on their own terms will appeal to readers of all ages. Agent: Susan Ginsberg, Writers House. (May)