Growing up in the Polish village of Tarnogrod on the fringes of a deep pine forest, Mala Szorer had the happiest childhood she could have hoped for. But at the age of twelve, as the German invasion begins, her beloved village becomes a ghetto and her family and friends reduced to starvation. She takes matters into her own hands and bravely removes her yellow star, risking sneaking out to the surrounding villages to barter for food.
It is on her way back that she sees her loved ones rounded up for deportation, and receives a smuggled letter from her sister warning her to stay away. In order to survive, she walks away from everything she holds dear to live by herself in the forest, hiding not just from the Nazis but hostile villagers. She is followed by a stray cat who stays with her—and seems to come to her rescue time and time again. "Malach" the cat becomes her family and her only respite from painful loneliness, a guide, and areminder to stay hopeful even when faced with unfathomable darkness. Mala Kacenberg. Hardcover; 314 pages.