Sendler's courage, initiative, and ingenuity intrigued me, and I wanted to try this fictional account based on Sendler's activities.
Two sisters, Anna and Lina, and their father are rounded up and imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto where starvation and typhoid take a terrible toll. Twelve-year-old Anna joins a group of children who make their way in and out of the Ghetto, usually through the sewers, in order to get food and medicine.
The story alternates between Anna and Lina. Anna and infant Dov are smuggled out by Jolanta (the nom de guerre used by Irene Sendler) and taken in by a Polish family.
Lina stays in the ghetto, but becomes involved in forging papers for the underground network to give the children being smuggled out new names and backgrounds. Eventually, Lina and Masha, another young woman who exhibits great courage, end up in Treblinka.
Both sisters hold out hope for reunion, struggling with the threats that could end their lives. Will the jars in Jolanta's garden help reunite the sisters, or any of those 2,500 smuggled Jewish children, with their families?
Although the author never goes into graphic detail at any point, there are some difficult and unpalatable incidents that should be expected in a book set in this period and location. Gold handles all of these incidents well, including just enough to give a sense of the horror faced by Polish Jews and the Polish resistance and still be in keeping for young adults.
NetGalley/Second Story Press
YA/Historical Fiction. Sept. 14, 2021. Print length: 336 pages.