In 1939, young Tadek Gradinski and his family live a carefree lifestyle in Poland. Their lives are interrupted in 1940 when the Russian army invades. The authoritarian Russian rule felt by the Polish people is interrupted when the German army invades Poland a year later. Soon an underground force is organized with Tadek participating as a messenger. His father is taken from their home to work elsewhere in the new German empire, while Tadek’s remaining family gets caught up in the intrigue between the Jews and the Germans, eventually hiding a Jewish family from the Gestapo.
The story follows Tadek’s situation, his relationship with family members who work with the Underground, his new girlfriend, and his plight after the war while facing imprisonment in Siberia.
In this coming-of-age novel, Tadek learns life’s lessons the hard way, helping his family survive during enemy occupation and working with the resistance, a dangerous daily lifestyle, while hiding his true identity from his friends. Tension builds as Tadek tries to deliver messages to the resistance. At times, tension builds and catches you by the throat. It’s also a heartbreaking love story as Tadek falls for a local girl, but because he lives such a dangerous life, he is unable to follow through with this relationship and marry her. Highly recommended.