Nominated for the CILIP CARNEGIE MEDAL 2019
Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. In another life we might all have been friends together. But this was Birchwood.
For fans of The Diary of Anne Frank and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
As fourteen-year-old Ella begins her first day at work she steps into a world of silks, seams, scissors, pins, hems and trimmings. She is a dressmaker, but this is no ordinary sewing workshop. Hers are no ordinary clients.
Ella has joined the seamstresses of Birkenau-Auschwitz, as readers may recognise it. Every dress she makes could mean the difference between life and death. And this place is all about survival.
Ella seeks refuge from this reality, and from haunting memories, in her work and in the world of fashion and fabrics. She is faced with painful decisions about how far she is prepared to go to survive. Is her love of clothes and creativity nothing more than collaboration with her captors, or is it a means of staying alive? Will she fight for herself alone, or will she trust the importance of an ever-deepening friendship with Rose?
One thing weaves through the colours of couture gowns and camp mud – a red ribbon, given to Ella as a symbol of hope.