The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff
1942. Sadie Gault is eighteen and living with her parents in the Kraków Ghetto during World War II. When the Nazis liquidate the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother are forced to seek refuge in the perilous tunnels beneath the city. One day Sadie looks up through a grate and sees a girl about her own age buying flowers.
Ella Stepanek is an affluent Polish girl living a life of relative ease with her stepmother, who has developed close alliances with the occupying Germans. While on an errand in the market, she catches a glimpse of something moving beneath a grate in the street. Upon closer inspection, she realizes it’s a girl hiding.
Ella begins to aid Sadie and the two become close, but as the dangers of the war worsen, their lives are set on a collision course that will test them in the face of overwhelming odds. Inspired by incredible true stories, The Woman with the Blue Star is an unforgettable testament to the power of friendship and the extraordinary strength of the human will to survive. (publisher)
Sadie’s family is living in the Krakow ghetto during WWII. But they manage to leave before the inhabitants are transferred to the concentration camps. With another family, they hide in a sewer beneath the city. At first, they think that they will be there just a while before moving somewhere else, but soon it becomes evident that there is nowhere to go. Ella is from a well-to-do gentile family and living with her stepmother who is throwing parties to Nazis. She catches glimpse of a girl in the sewers, they become friends and Ella helps by bringing some food for them.
The book is largely focused on the people hiding in the sewers, so we don’t see the concentration camps or much about what’s happening in the city. So, in that sense, it’s a bit different book from many other WWII books. We have both Sadie’s and Ella’s POV and for once I liked both just as much.
It was nice to see the growth of both girls during this difficult time. Especially Ella, who was from an affluent family, saw a whole different world when she went to the other side of the city and befriended Sadie.
There were few scenes that I thought were a bit far fetched. Mainly the idea that the girls could converse through a sewer grate in the street multiple times with no one noticing. But overall, it was a well-written book. This was my first book by the author, but I had heard good things about her books. I definitely want to read more from her.
Published: Park Row (May 4, 2021)