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They Went Left by Monica Hesse

They Went Left (original 2020; edition 2020)

by Monica Hesse (Author)

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1629131,086 (4.23)2
"Zofia, a teenage Holocaust survivor, travels across post-war Europe as she searches for her younger brother and seeks to rebuild her shattered life"--
Title:They Went Left
Authors:Monica Hesse (Author)
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2020), 384 pages
Collections:2016 books

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They Went Left by Monica Hesse (2020)


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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
A bit like Cilka's Journey, this book takes place in the aftermath of Nazi concentration camps. Zofia has been rescued by a Russian soldier named Dima who brings her back to her home in Poland, where she yearns to be reunited with her younger brother, Abek. The rest of her family "went left" into the showers, where they were killed by poisonous gas. Rather than wait for him, Zofia heads off to Germany to find Abek in desperation for something to keep her tethered to this world. She ends up in a refugee camp for displaced people, eventually falling for a distant man named Josef, who seems to have his own dark secrets. One of the ways that Zofia survives is by reciting the alphabet from A (Abek) to Z (Zofia), each letter with a connection to family or home. She makes friends, who choose to make the best of their surroundings, when her world is turned upside down not once or twice, but thrice. Well done. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
Just started this and it is really good so far, both the story and the narration - can't wait to know the end, but I will.

Germany, 1945. The soldiers who liberated the Gross-Rosen concentration camp said the war was over, but nothing feels over to 18-year-old Zofia Lederman. Her body has barely begun to heal; her mind feels broken. And her life is completely shattered: Three years ago, she and her younger brother, Abek, were the only members of their family to be sent to the right, away from the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Everyone else - her parents, her grandmother, radiant Aunt Maja - they went left.

Zofia's last words to her brother were a promise: "Abek to Zofia, A to Z. When I find you again, we will fill our alphabet." Now her journey to fulfill that vow takes her through Poland and Germany and into a displaced persons camp where everyone she meets is trying to piece together a future from a painful past: Miriam, desperately searching for the twin she was separated from after they survived medical experimentation. Breine, a former heiress, who now longs only for a simple wedding with her new fiancé. And Josef, who guards his past behind a wall of secrets and is beautiful and strange and magnetic all at once.

But the deeper Zofia digs, the more impossible her search seems. How can she find one boy in a sea of the missing? In the rubble of a broken continent, Zofia must delve into a mystery whose answers could break her - or help her rebuild her world.
  Gmomaj | May 7, 2021 |
"They Went Left" provided an interesting insight into what happened to Jewish people after they were liberated from the Nazi concentration camps at the end of WWII. Zofia's story was a heartbreaking one as she struggled with confusion, grief, physical and mental issues and a desperate search to find her younger brother. Yet, despite all this, I found the novel bland. Zofia was too naive and stubborn and I thought the romance detracted from a story that should have been raw and emotional.

However, I did enjoy learning about life at Foehrenwald in the displaced persons camp as people tried to reconnect with lost family members and move forward, piecing their lives back together after the horrors they endured. It was a testament to the strength of the human spirit. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Sep 17, 2020 |
They Went Left begins where most World War II books end - after the war. Zofia leaves the hospital where she has been recovering with other concentration camp survivors to find her brother Abek - the only family member she thinks survived. Abek is not in their Polish hometown, where she discovers many people still do not want Jews. Despite being both physically and emotionally fragile from her experiences, Zofia travels to Germany to search for one boy among many displaced persons in the chaos of postwar Europe. They Went Left is an unforgettable story about grief, hope, and unfathomable resilience. ( )
  SGKowalski | Sep 9, 2020 |
YA historical fiction focuses on 18-year old Polish concentration camp survivor, Zofia, and her efforts to find the last surviving member of her Jewish family, her younger brother, Abek, after the camps are liberated.
Compounding the mystery of her missing brother is the mental health issues Zofia is suffering from as a result of her internment. These bouts of anxiety sometimes become all-encompassing in her mind and the way they are presented to the reader make you feel like you are going through them with Zofia, bringing a greater understanding of her circumstance and of her sheer will to make sense of her reality.
I especially loved the way the chapters are laid out, from A-Z, just like Abek and Zofia do in their childhood stories.
And having the story focused on life after liberation and through displacement helps to encourage greater understanding of this part of post-WWII history. ( )
  deslivres5 | Jun 27, 2020 |
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For Andrew, my own little brother
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The last time I saw Abek: Barbed wire, rusty metal knots.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Zofia, a teenage Holocaust survivor, travels across post-war Europe as she searches for her younger brother and seeks to rebuild her shattered life"--

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