Perla S. (for Sara--the name the Nazis put on all Jewish women for ""identification's"" sake) is a 17-year-old Jewish prostitute in the Terezin ghetto in 1943, receiving her clients while waiting (she and them) to be transported East and to the certain death of the camps. Most of the visitors to her garret (which she shares with a large rat that lives beneath the floorboards) are Jewish, too (a rabbi among them), but some are Germans (among them a Luftwaffe officer). This book is her fictional diary, recording not only the melancholy accounts of her poor clinging-to-life trade (""November 28. Once. A kilo of powdered sugar. Five times during the night. A quarter kilo of bread flour. A stamp album. A sewing kit with spools of black and brown thread. Fifteen marks""), but also an on-going dialogue with her customers and one friend, Ludmiila, another young Czech girl with whom Petla shares apprehensions, painfully aborted hopes, and dwindling margins of time. Naturally you're reminded of a cruelly distorted Anne Frank here, the relative innocence shorn away; and, needless to say, the book has a baleful pulse. The claustrophobia of circumstance does, though, keep the tone too much the same, so that ten pages of Perla is essentially 50 or 60 as well. Altogether, dirge-like work by a writer of impressively singular focus: how horror hits youth.