Suzy Zail
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
ISBN: 9781760653736
Awards Year: 2024
Category: Book of the Year: Older Readers


A gritty YA novel about family secrets, hope and healing. Based on a true story.

Lisa’s father has six months to live. And a story to tell about a boy sent to Auschwitz. A boy who lost everything and started again. A story he has kept hidden – until now.

But Lisa doesn’t want to hear it, because she has secrets too. No one at school knows she is Jewish or that her dad is sick. Not even her boyfriend.

But that’s all about to change. And so is she.

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The author says...

My father never talked about the Holocaust. There was the past - the camps, the loss of his family and his home – and then there was us. We didn’t talk about before. We focused on now. And that suited me fine. I didn’t want to invite death into our home either...

Read the full Inkflower inspiration article written by Suzy Zail on her website.


The CBCA judges say...

The dual timeline narrative is deftly handed by the author, using simple chapter headings to clearly delineate Emil’s experience as a young boy sent to Auschwitz and his teenage daughter Lisa’s life in the 1980s in Australia. The two timelines work together to explore themes of survival, secrets, and the transformative power of truth and storytelling. The historical setting is brought to life with incredibly vivid descriptions - the horror and violence of the Holocaust is balanced with small acts of kindness and a heartbreaking hyperfocus on food. The characterisation of Lisa felt authentic and relatable - her response to her father’s story and diagnosis of Motor Neuron Disease was to initially turn away from her friends and escape into the arms of her boyfriend. This book would appeal to mature readers keen to learn about the Holocaust and take on a devastating, powerful story with the potential to make you cry.


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A Reading Time reviewer says...

Remembering must feel like walking on broken glass.

Lisa Keller’s life is about to change forever. She’s dealing with the usual concerns of a Year 10 high school student: hanging out with her friends, keeping a low profile and experiencing first love. Then her father is diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and given six months to live. And before he dies, he wants to share his story with his family...


Teaching Notes for this book...

Both publisher,Walker Books Australia, and author, Suzy Zail, have generously made teaching notes available for this book on their websites.


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