They Went Left (Hardcover)
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316490573, 384pp.
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
But the deeper Zofia digs, the more impossible her search seems. How can she find one boy in a sea of the missing? In the rubble of a broken continent, Zofia must delve into a mystery whose answers could break her--or help her rebuild her world.
About the Author
Praise For They Went Left…
* "A heartbreaking and heartwarming story of survival, loss, and renewal. Sure to please a variety of readers; those interested in historical fiction, romance, and mystery will not be able to put this book down."—School Library Journal, starred review
* "Hesse again proves to be a master of verisimilitude, bringing the realities of existence in the immediate postwar period to visceral life through painstaking detail. Her beautifully realized, highly empathetic characters come to life, too, in the pages of this superbly crafted novel...like real life, there is heartbreaking sadness here but also hope that life, finally, will be whole and fine, A to Z."—Booklist, starred review
* "Hesse's meticulous research is evident on every page but never distracts from her propulsive plot. Combining history, romance and mystery, They Went Left is a heartbreaking yet hopeful story of what it takes to survive after trauma."—BookPage, starred review
* "Compelling."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A heartbreaking, gorgeously written story...The ending left me breathless and awed by its expression of enduring love."—Jewell Parker Rhodes, New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Boys
"Zofia's harrowing journey to find Abek and the fellow survivors she meets along the way will stay with the reader--particularly the echoes of the present evoked in a narrative of the past."—Refinery29
* "Superb.... A satisfying and bittersweet novel, perfect for those who enjoyed Markus Zusak's The Book Thief."—SLJ, starred review
"Monica Hesse takes a setting we think we understand and shifts it in an important way...a tightly plotted exploration of the consequences of fear."—The New York Times Book Review
"Timely...[Hesse] again uses a well-researched historical backdrop to tell a powerful coming-of-age story."—Washington Post
Praise for Girl in the Blue Coat:
A New York Public Library Best Book for Teens of 2016
An Entertainment Weekly Best YA Book of 2016
A Booklist Best Young Adult Book of 2016
A Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People Selection 2017
A 2017 Indies Choice Awards Finalist for Best Young Adult Book
A YALSA 2017 Best Book for Young Adults
A 2017 Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year
A 2017 Wyoming Soaring Eagle Book Award Nominee
A 2017 Washington, D.C. Capitol Choices List recommended title
A 2018 Connecticut Nutmeg Book Award Nominee
2018 All Iowa Young Adults Read
"A tapestry of guilt and acceptance, growing responsibility, and reluctant heroism, Hanneke's coming-of-age under heartbreaking circumstances is a jarring reminder of how war consumes and transforms the passions of ordinary life. Every devastating moment of this beautiful novel is both poignant and powerful, and every word feels true."—Elizabeth Wein, New York Times bestselling author of Black Dove, White Raven; Rose Under Fire; and the Printz Honor-winning Code Name Verity
"Taut and intelligent.... the historical setting is rendered the way only an expert can do it."—Washington Post
* "Riveting.... A gripping historical mystery."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. Zofia wrestles with her own memories over the course of her search for Abek. How does the Sosnowiec of Zofia’s memories compare to the Sosnowiec she returns to?
2. How do physical possessions, particularly clothing, anchor Zofia and other characters to the present? To the past?
3. Zofia speaks of the “small acts of defiance” braved by people in the camps (p. 209). How do characters assert their humanity in the face of the systematic Nazi efforts to dehumanize them?
4. What role does storytelling play in preserving the legacy of survivors and their families? How do records of survivors’ stories, both written and oral, inform Zofia’s search for Abek?
5. Zofia suggests that “the absence of pain is not the same as the presence of happiness” (p. 198). How do survivors move forward? What moments of happiness in the face of pain does Zofia witness or experience?
6. What does family come to mean to Zofia and the other survivors she encounters? How does this definition change?
7. What do different characters do to survive both during and after the war? How do they reckon with those actions as they recover? How does survivors’ guilt affect them?
8. In the aftermath of the war, what systems and forces rise up to establish order from the chaos? What are Zofia’s experiences with these systems? How does Foehrenwald reflect the larger post-war state of Europe?
9. Throughout the book, Zofia references the alphabet she embroidered on the inside of Abek’s coat. How do the names and places that make up this alphabet persist in Zofia’s memory? How does she distinguish truth in these memories from fabrications?
10. In her author’s note, Monica Hesse notes that “the war didn’t end people’s prejudice.” What instances of anti-Semitism does Zofia encounter in her post-war journey?
11. Do you resonate with any one particular character? Why?
12. Do you see similarities between post-war Europe and our world today? How can we benefit from the knowledge of history?