Jennifer A. Nielsen

Middle Grade Historical Fiction

Twelve-year-old Lidia is outside her grandfather’s house when planes fly overhead, bearing the Nazi cross on each wing. Before the bombs hit the ground, Lidia realizes her life is about to change forever. Poland has fallen under German occupation, and her father makes the brave decision to join the Polish army to fight against the Nazis. Lidia wants to follow him into war, but she’s far too young, and she’s needed by her mother and brother. After her family returns to Warsaw, where life has changed irrevocably, Lidia continues to play the piano, finding comfort in Chopin, Bach, and Beethoven. But she also wants to aid the Jewish people held captive in the Warsaw Ghetto. With the help of a friend, Lidia begins to smuggle wheat and food into the ghetto. Still, she feels like she could be doing so much more. She wants to fight. After her brother joins the resistance, Lidia wants only to follow in his footsteps. Soon, she begins to work as a courier, smuggling weapons and messages for the resistance throughout the city. When the Warsaw city uprising begins―one year after the more well-known Warsaw Ghetto uprising by Polish Jews―with gunfire and bombs echoing throughout the streets, Lidia joins the Polish nationalists’ fight, too, and she and her peers fight with everything they’ve got. Life will continue to surprise Lidia, as she and the resistance fighters do their best to defeat the German soldiers. No matter the consequences, they’re willing to defend their freedom and their homes from the Nazi invaders―even with their lives. Drawing on the extraordinary real-life story of Polish teenager Lidia Zakrzewski, bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen presents an inspiring and dramatic account of the Polish resistance fighters who struggled to force out their Nazi occupiers and reclaim their nation’s freedom from tyranny.

-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.

Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.

My Opinion

“What’s the point of fighting when there’s no hope of winning? Because fighting is what gives us hope.”

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) Lidia and her family are in Poland when the Germans invade. At 12, Lidia ends up spending most of her teen years fighting for Poland from Germany but also Russia during WW2.

Lidia and friends and family get involved in the resistance. Many intense scenes are filled with life-threatening experiences. I liked seeing who would get involved, who wouldn’t and their reasons why.

While Lidia is nothing but brave, she also exudes carelessness. Her actions at times are too brazen for what I feel a young teen would be. Then again, maybe it is her youth and naivete that gives her that strength.

“Heroes are those that stand up to do the right thing, no matter how their story ends.”

Ultimately, Lidia was a character to admire. She is one that younger kids but also teens could relate to. I also feel the information in the book is a good dose of realism without too many details for the younger or more sensitive readers. There were photos in the back which made the story and people feel more real.

General content summary: 

Little to no language

War planes shooting at a family 

Child death (previous, no details)

Bombs dropped (destruction)

Hunger and physical evidence of starvation 

Man people seen dead (graves were rarely dug, few details)

Physical violence (young man being hit, blood, news of man being beaten)

Family death (no details, few)

Friends and family rumored to be in camps  and stories of many killed (very few details)

Men being shot in the streets (multiple)

People boarded into train cars with guns

Explosions, fighting, gunfire, tank fire  (multiple)

Rumors of children being taken from Poland and placed in adoptive families in Germany. Unwillingly.


Intense moments with soldiers, bombs, tanks, grenades, gunshots and more. Few details. Many injuries seen with blood. 

Thank you to Scholastic and Shelf Awareness for the copy!

The book releases March 5, 2024.

**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

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