A modern American girl researches the post–World War II fate of her great-aunt, who is both her namesake and a fellow violinist.
For a seventh-grade family research project, Charlotte “Charlie” Roth chooses to explore whatever she can find out about “the other Charlotte”: Charlotte Kulka, who reportedly perished in the Holocaust. Enlisting the aid of her mother’s mother, Nana Rose, the original Charlotte’s younger sister, Charlie uses photographs, letters, journals, scrapbooks, library resources, and a dogged determination to uncover the journey and fate of her lost relative. Ross uses a close third-person narration to follow Charlie’s discoveries about her family’s separations, losses, and adaptive strategies as well as her own emerging relationship with music. While the modern-day characters are more simply drawn than the historical ones, this is a Holocaust story that conveys some of the trauma of the time period without overwhelming graphic detail. Readers will appreciate putting together the puzzle pieces, which are loosely based on the author’s own family’s story.
A highly accessible and endearing historical mystery about a painful period of the past that still resonates in the contemporary landscape. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 8-12)