At twelve, David cannot remember a time when he had not lived in the concentration camp. When the man (David thinks of him as the man even though he knows his name) orders David to escape, he expects to be shot. But he follows orders because he has learned to obey them. They would kill him as they did the others. The orders are simple: climb over the fence; pick up the water bottle and compass at the big tree; head south to Stalonika; stowaway on a ship to Italy; then north to Denmark. They do not seem unbearably arduous to David, although readers will want to ease his hardships. But they will also share with him the shock of discovering all the things civilized man takes for granted, as well as some of the values (how children play, how people love each other) he has never known. It would be difficult to begrudge the almost pat ending when David finds his mother because it is clear that the scars of the concentration camp will never completely disappear. The author has done a remarkable job in making David completely believable as an individual while projecting him as a symbol of mankind's indomitable spirit. Though the plot is high adventure, the tone and introspectiveness make this a book for the maturing young person who is leaving the self-centeredness of youth behind.