Kanada. The name meant untold riches and promise to Jutka, a young Hungarian girl who was captivated by stories of a vast, majestic country where people were able to breathe free of hatred and prejudice. Freedom was in short supply, but hatred was everywhere in Hungary as hundreds of thousands of Jews were deported to concentration camps during the last year of WWII. Jutka, her friends, and her family are sent to Auschwitz.
In that hellish place, there was another Kanada. It was the ironic name given to the storehouse at Auschwitz where the possessions — clothing and jewelry — stripped from the victims were deposited, and where Jutka was put to work.
The war may have ended, but it did not end the suffering of many of the inmates of concentration camps. Many had no homes to go to, and if they did, they were not welcome. Hundreds went back to Poland and were murdered. Famished, diseased, and homeless, they lived in the hopelessness of camps, wondering if they could ever find a home in the world. Some went to Israel, but for Jutka there was only one dream left her — the dream of a country full of hope, where she would no longer have to live in fear.
Eva Wiseman’s powerful novel describes the war and its long, difficult aftermath with compassion and tenderness.