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Young Adult Fiction 1395
They Went Left
(Updated: April 17, 2020)
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
What worked: Beautifully written tale of eighteen-year-old Holocaust survivor Zofia Lederman who searches for her brother after the war. I've read many books set before and during the Holocaust, but not one that takes place after. This story is gut-wrenching as we follow Zofia on her search for her younger brother, Abek. He's the only surviving family she has. She made a promise to him at the camps that after the war, she would look for him.

Zofia's trials don't end when the war is over. When she returns to her home in Poland, she encounters antisemitism, which includes her former landlady. Zofia suffers from lapses of memory. She's not sure what is real or not and fears that the truth will shatter her.

The scenes in the displacement camp show others who have survived the war. Through it all Zofia continues searching for Abek. She falls for Josef, who has his own secrets. This relationship starts off slow and then strong. There's heartbreak and also betrayals. Each backstory of those other survivors in the camp are tragic with the pain they each encountered from losing loved ones to trying to survive in a Post-WWII world. Hesse's nails the emotions, struggles so well.

Bittersweet, powerful writing that follows Zofia on her search that ends with a note of hope. I feel this has to be Hesse's best novel yet. The final reveals had me gasping and gave me goosebumps. Totally recommend to those who love historicals set during WWII.
Good Points
1. Beautifully written tale of a Holocaust survivor searching for her brother after the world
2. Heartwrenching.
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