For those of you thinking, “Aren’t they ever going to stop publishing YA novels about the Holocaust?”, I feel you. I think this pretty much every time I see one, right before I buy it, read it, and feel like it was an important book.
The Light in Hidden Places is, in fact, a YA novel set during the Holocaust. While I do always end up glad that I’ve read those books, it always helps to note what makes them different from each other.
This book is based largely on the unpublished memoir of Stefania Podgorska, a young Catholic girl who hid thirteen Jews in her attic in Poland during World War II, with Nazis living in the apartment part of that time. Sharon Cameron worked from that, as well as personally interviewing her family and remaining members of the families who lived in the attic.
Also, this story is largely focused on life in Poland just before and during World War II, rather than the atrocities of the camps. Don’t mistake me, there are allusions to things in the camps and descriptions of horrors in the city streets. Overall, though, you get much more of a feel for the general terror of being an ordinary citizen in that time, trying to figure out what your role is in the face of a horrific mob mentality.
There is an author’s note at the end explaining what was from sources and what was fictionalized and why, and giving some follow-up on the real people after the scope of the story.
This book is for readers of Between Shades of Gray and young people interested in WWII history. It is appropriate for the full YA age spectrum.
Disclosure: Links are Bookshop affiliate links.