Is the chance to serve as an extra for Hitler’s favorite filmmaker a chance at life — or a detour on the path to inevitable extermination?
One ordinary afternoon, fifeen-year-old Lilo and her family are suddenly picked up by Hitler’s police and imprisoned as part of the "Gypsy plague." Just when it seems certain that they will be headed to a labor camp, Lilo is chosen by filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl to work as a film extra. Life on the film set is a bizarre alternate reality. The surroundings are glamorous, but Lilo and the other extras are barely fed, closely guarded, and kept in a locked barn when not on the movie set. And the beautiful, charming Riefenstahl is always present, answering the slightest provocation with malice, flaunting the power to assign prisoners to life or death. Lilo takes matters into her own hands, effecting an escape and running for her life. In this chilling but ultimately uplifting novel, Kathryn Lasky imagines the lives of the Gypsies who worked as extras for the real Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, giving readers a story of survival unlike any other.
Lasky delivers a well-researched and uncompromising standalone novel focusing on the Nazi genocide of the Roma and Sinti peoples. ... Lasky’s novel is thorough in its attention to detail, mixing facts like Riefenstahl’s awful behavior toward her charges with the horrific lives of the fictional characters. … [B]etween the constant, appalling brutality of the camps and Lilo’s growth over the years, Lasky draws remarkable depth, realism, and even charm out of a bleak story. —Publishers Weekly
Lasky has written a harrowing and deeply moving novel that focuses attention on a seldom-told story of the Nazis’ attempt to exterminate the Romani people. Thoroughly researched and insightful, the book is ideal for classroom use and discussion. —Booklist