Thirteen-year-old Clara and her younger brother Peter are living in Prague with their parents in 1943 when the family receives orders to join a transport. Their destination is Terezin (also known as Theresienstadt), a lesser-known concentration camp in what is now the Czech Republic. Although her family is separated for most of each day and the living conditions are harsh, Clara learns to find comfort in schoolwork, music, and friends, especially streetwise Jacob. He tells her what is really happening to the people chosen for further transports to Auschwitz, and that he plans to escape from Terezin when the time is right. The story is realistically open-ended; when Jacob disappears, Clara never learns if his escape was successful or if he died in the attempt. Also, since the story ends before the camp is liberated, readers never find out if the main character survives the war or not, which is disconcerting and disappointing. The novel is not as engaging as the many Holocaust stories by Carol Matas and others, and has an annoying tendency to overuse the term "alright." However, the details are accurate and the historical photos and artwork at the end add realism.
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