AGE: 13 up
Alona, 15, is considered too young to join her school's tour of concentration camps in Poland, but she argues eloquently and is finally accepted. Alona's grandparents had survived the Holocaust and told her stories which haunted her for years.
The trip brings Alona into close contact with Nimrod, an older boy she has been admiring for some time. Their relationship evolves from annoyance to intimations of first love.
Walking in the tracks of the Birkenau Death March is the climax of the expedition, but events before and after are what affect Alona most profoundly: the mound of human hair at Auschwitz, where Alona identifies a tiny braid; the camp's fence, where she leaves a flower as she promised her grandmother; the story she hears at Maidanek, where the German guards shot the ravens overhead to prevent their carrying away evidence from the death camp.
This is an inventive blend of Holocaust education and young adult fiction that incorporates history and credible teenage characters groping towards maturity.