I scratch the skin around my shoulder. I know I mustn't, but I can't help it. I am itchy everywhere. I fight the urge to jump out of the bunk. Besides, there is no place to go. We are prisoners here. If only this was the dream and I could wake up and return to my old life.
A pampered child used to having her own way, Anneke Van Raalte lives outside Amsterdam, where her father is a cartoonist for the Amsterdam newspaper. Though Anneke's family is Jewish, her religion means little to her. Anneke's life changes in 1942 when the Nazis invade Holland, and she and her family are deported to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Not only are conditions in the camp appalling, but the camp is the site of an elaborate hoax: the Nazis are determined to convince the world that Theresienstadt is an idyllic place and that European Jews are thriving under the Nazi regime. Because he is an artist, Anneke's father is compelled to help in the propaganda campaign, and Anneke finds herself torn between her loyalty to her family and her sense of what is right. What World is Left was inspired by the experiences of the author's mother, who was imprisoned in Theresienstadt during World War II.
Growing up in Montreal, author Monique Polak's mother talked little about her imprisonment in Theresienstadt. It was only recently that Monique's mother, now almost 80, shared her story. She and her family survived the camp largely on account of her father, Jo Spier, a well-known Dutch cartoonist who was forced by the Nazis to contribute to their hoax by producing propaganda drawings.
As part of Monique's research for this book, she traveled to her mother's childhood home in Broek in Waterland, Holland; visited the Jewish Lyceum she attended in Amsterdam (where Anne Frank was a fellow student); and traveled to Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic.
What World Is Left is a work of fiction that draws on the childhood experiences of Monique's mother. In it, Monique explores complex moral choices and their implications. Parents, teachers, and YA authors all try to teach young people to distinguish between right and wrong, but sometimes—especially perhaps in wartime—that distinction becomes blurred. In What World Is Left, Anneke must come to terms not only with her own father's actions, but also with a world gone terribly wrong. Though What World Is Left is set during the Holocaust, its themes have special relevance in today's complex world.
What World is Left
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