The Woman with the Blue Star
by Pam Jenoff
During the early 1940’s, 19-year-old Sadie Gault, her father and pregnant mother, are living in the Jewish ghetto in Krakow, Poland. To avoid roundups of Jews being sent to concentration camps, the family eventually escapes into the sewer. Pawel, a Polish sewer worker, helps them find a semi-safe place underground with the Rosenberg family. He brings the group food when possible. Tragically Sadie’s father drowns during their escape.
19-year-old Ella Stepanek lives with her cruel Nazi collaborator stepmother also in Krakow. One day Ella sees Sadie peeking through a grate in the street. The young women have much in common despite Sadie’s horrific living circumstances. The two become friends/confidants despite their only contact being through a sewer grate. The whole situation between the young women is extremely dangerous for them and for the others living in the sewer.
After Sadie’s mother gives birth, the group soon realizes that the baby’s cries will put everyone in danger. Sadly, Sadie’s mother leaves the sewer hoping to return after leaving the little girl at a catholic charity hospital. Eventually the sewer is not a safe hiding place for anyone
The story is told in alternating chapters between Sadie and Ella. It is a story based on historical fact and is not easy to read. It is a story of bravery, friendship, and family with an unexpected twist at the end.
(The “Blue Star of David” on a white armband was worn by Jewish people from Poland, East Silesia and Upper Silesia.)