When the roundups start, Malka’s mother knows she must get her daughters-seven- year-old Malka and sixteen-year-old Minna-across the Hungarian border to safety, a place where they hope Jews can live in peace. But escape proves harder than they could have imagined, with bleeding feet, bad weather, and homesickness, and little Malka falls ill. Left behind to be brought across when the threat has passed, Malka finds herself in a terrifying world full of strangers, starvation, and constant fear of Nazi roundups. As time passes, it becomes more and more apparent that the threat is far from over. Completely alone, Malka struggles to stay hidden, unaware that miles away, a brokenhearted mother is searching frantically for her lost little girl.
Hannah thinks that because she is a doctor she wont be harmed when the Germans come for the Jews and she has lulled herself into a false sense of security. So when the Germans do come for her she is forced to run away with her children with almost nothing on them. Malka is only 7 and she doesn’t understand what is going and when she becomes ill Hannah is forced to make a decision about what is best to do for everyone.
Alone and back in Poland Malka can only think about the hunger she feels. She tries not to think of her mother and instead thinks about the few kind people who have helped her out during her journey. Barely surviving she hides from the Germans and steals whatever food she can not even thinking about her future. However her mother is frantically looking for her.
This book is based loosely on a true story, Malka Mai was taken from Poland by her mother during the war however being so young at the time she doesn’t remember and has suppressed a lot of her memories.
The story alternates between Malka’s point of view and her mothers. Malka doesn’t understand what is going on around her but because she is young and pretty she does when the affections of some who take her in briefly. In the end however she is still left hungry and alone. Hannah on the other hand doesn’t know what is the right thing to do. She has to make the right decisions to keep both her daughters safe but how can you do that when they have been separated. I really felt for her throughout the book, she was continually judged for her work with the Germans and then her decision to leave her youngest daughter behind however she was trying to also keep her eldest daughter safe. The elder daughter frustrated me a little as she didn’t seem at all grateful for what her mother had done and it was to keep her safe that she had given up everything.
It is really hard to rate books like this because you can’t say you enjoy a story about suffering especially something so true. This wasn’t a book I enjoyed but I did find it worth reading.