A 12-year-old Ukrainian girl arrives in Canada after World War II and struggles to make sense of her jumbled memories of battle-scarred Germany.
After five years in a displaced persons camp, Nadia Kravchuk arrives in Brantford, Ontario, accompanied by her adoptive mother, Marusia. When Nadia’s fellow classmates are convinced by her blonde hair and blue eyes that she is a Nazi, Marusia repeatedly assures Nadia that’s not the case. Eventually, Nadia safely relives her trauma in order to solve the puzzle of who she really is—not Nadia Kravchuk nor Gretchen Himmel, the German identity she assumed to survive, but someone else entirely…Larissa, the younger sister of Lida, the protagonist of Skrypuch’s Making Bombs for Hitler (2016). The author once again deftly sheds light on lesser-known aspects of the Ukrainian experience during WWII. Via flashbacks and nightmares, she gradually fleshes out Nadia’s painful history of abduction from her original family and subsequent placement in a German household. As further explained in the author’s note, this was part of the Lebensborn program, an effort to identify and mark blond and blue-eyed Ukrainian children as Aryans and force them to live with Nazi families in order to augment the building of a master race.
A gripping exploration of war-induced trauma, identity, and transformation. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 8-12)