Author: Monica Hesse
Published by: Little Brown and Company on Apr. 7, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Source: HBG Canada
Book Rating: 9/10
Germany, 1945. The soldiers who liberated the Gross-Rosen concentration camp said the war was over, but nothing feels over to eighteen-year-old Zofia Lederman. Her body has barely begun to heal; her mind feels broken. And her life is completely shattered: Three years ago, she and her younger brother, Abek, were the only members of their family to be sent to the right, away from the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Everyone else–her parents, her grandmother, radiant Aunt Maja–they went left.
Zofia’s last words to her brother were a promise: Abek to Zofia, A to Z. When I find you again, we will fill our alphabet. Now her journey to fulfill that vow takes her through Poland and Germany, and into a displaced persons camp where everyone she meets is trying to piece together a future from a painful past: Miriam, desperately searching for the twin she was separated from after they survived medical experimentation. Breine, a former heiress, who now longs only for a simple wedding with her new fiancé. And Josef, who guards his past behind a wall of secrets, and is beautiful and strange and magnetic all at once.
But the deeper Zofia digs, the more impossible her search seems. How can she find one boy in a sea of the missing? In the rubble of a broken continent, Zofia must delve into a mystery whose answers could break her–or help her rebuild her world.
Heartwrenching, haunting, and hopeful!
They Went Left is a poignant, compelling tale that sweeps you away to post-war Germany and into the life of Zofia Lederman, a young Jewish girl who after being liberated from a Nazi concentration camp and with a mind traumatized by cruelty and violence travels from her home town in Poland to the Foehrenwald Displaced Persons Camp to search for the one family member who may not be lost forever and that she swore to protect, her younger brother, Abek.
The prose is raw and tense. The characters are vulnerable, tortured, and resilient. And the plot is a moving tale about life, love, bravery, strength, loss, deception, hope, survival, and the enduring aftereffects of war.
Overall, They Went Left is a lovely blend of historical facts, realistic fiction, and palpable emotion that does a beautiful job of reminding us that even after suffering the most unimaginable cruelty and wickedness humanity still has an innate ability to want to love and be loved.
This novel is available now.
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Thank you to HBG Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.