Cover image for The light in hidden places
The light in hidden places
1st ed.
Physical Description:
377 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm.
General Note:
Based on the true story of Stefania Podgórska. Includes an author's note that outlines the later lives of Stefania, and the many of the other people who appear in the book.
Reading Level:
HL 650 L Lexile
Sixteen-year-old Catholic Stefania Podgórska has worked in the Diamant family's grocery store for four years, even falling in love with one of their sons, Izio; but when the Nazis came to Przemsyl, Poland, the Jewish Diamants are forced into the ghetto (and worse) and only Izio's brother Max manages to escape, and Stefania embarks on a dangerous course--protecting thirteen Jews in her attic, caring for her younger sister, Helena, and keeping everything secret from the two Nazi officers who are living in her house.


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The extraordinary story of Stefania Podgorska, a Polish teenager who chose bravery and humanity by hiding thirteen Jews in her attic during WWII -- from #1 New York Times bestselling author Sharon Cameron.

One knock at the door, and Stefania has a choice to make...

It is 1943, and for four years, sixteen-year-old Stefania has been working for the Diamant family in their grocery store in Przemsyl, Poland, singing her way into their lives and hearts. She has even made a promise to one of their sons, Izio -- a betrothal they must keep secret since she is Catholic and the Diamants are Jewish.

But everything changes when the German army invades Przemsyl. The Diamants are forced into the ghetto, and Stefania is alone in an occupied city, the only one left to care for Helena, her six-year-old sister. And then comes the knock at the door. Izio's brother Max has jumped from the train headed to a death camp. Stefania and Helena make the extraordinary decision to hide Max, and eventually twelve more Jews. Then they must wait, every day, for the next knock at the door, the one that will mean death. When the knock finally comes, it is two Nazi officers, requisitioning Stefania's house for the German army.

With two Nazis below, thirteen hidden Jews above, and a little sister by her side, Stefania has one more excruciating choice to make.

Author Notes

Sharon Cameron was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. She started out working several different jobs such as: a classical piano teacher, part-time genealogist, chair of a non-profit for a local theater group and a coordinator of the Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrator's Midsouth Conference. She soon found her passion for writing and now writes full-time. She made The New York Times Best Seller's List in 2016 with her title, "The Forgetting".

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--One of nine children, 16-year-old Stefania Podgorska, "Fusia," leaves the farm in Bircza and moves to Przemysl to work for the Jewish Diamant family. Fusia, a Catholic, joins the Diamant household, but they are forcibly moved to the ghetto by Germans, leaving her behind as she scrambles to sneak food to them right under the nose of German patrols. After her secret love, Izio Diamant, is killed in a labor camp, grief-ridden, angry Fusia travels to Bircza to find that the Nazis have ruined both of her families, but she is reunited with her 6-year-old sister, Helena. Fusia begins a grueling factory job making screws and risks her own life and Helena's in order to hide Izio's brother, Max, and 12 other Jews in an apartment at Tatarska 3. Exhaustion and fear become her daily life, even more so when Nazis move nurses into her apartment, with 13 Jews hiding overhead. Authentic writing and well-researched history combined with the gripping and terrifying subject matter make this a must-read for historical fiction fans. VERDICT Cameron's remarkable, heartbreaking true story of one woman's bravery and selflessness in World War II Poland will intrigue both teens and adult readers. Recommended for purchase in both school and public library collections.--Laura Jones, Indiana State Lib., Argos

Publisher's Weekly Review

Cameron's saga of life in wartime Poland under German occupation stretches from 1936, when 11-year-old Fusia first falls in love with city life on a visit to Przemys´l, through July 1944. Based on the experiences of then-teenager Stefania "Fusia" Podgórska, who, along with her younger sister Helena, was, in 1979, honored by the World Holocaust Remembrance Center for their heroism in saving Jews during the war, the book traces, in exhaustive detail, what that heroism looked like daily. Catholic Fusia doggedly persists in doing what she believes is right; when the Jewish family she has been living with and working for is sent to the Jewish ghetto, she sneaks food and supplies to them. Eventually she hides her friend, Max, and six (and later 13) other Jews in her and Helena's apartment. Living in fear and under constant suspicion, Fusia holds down a full-time factory job, fends off a Polish officer's advances, and undergoes several extremely close calls with the police, all while fiercely protecting Helena (an especially appealing character, sharp and savvy under her shy demeanor). This story of extraordinary survival is bolstered by an author's note, accompanied by photos, that relates the happy future that followed for Fusia, Helena, and Max. Ages 12--up. Agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary. (Mar.)

Kirkus Review

A true story of faith, love, and heroism.Stefania "Fusia" Podgrska longed for nothing more than to leave the rural Polish farm she was born on for the city of Przemyl where her older sisters lived. At the age of 12, she did just that, finding a job with the Diamants, a family of Jewish shopkeepers who welcomed her into their lives. For three years they lived peacefully until the Germans dropped bombs on Przemyl. The family struggled on as the war and anti-Semitism ramped up, but eventually, the Diamants were forced into a ghetto. Then 17, Catholic Fusia was determined to help them survive, even at the risk of her own safety, while also caring for her 6-year-old sister, Helena, after their family was taken by the Nazis for forced labor. Knowing the risks involved, Fusia made a bold decision to harbor Jews. As the number of people she sheltered increased, so did her panic about being caught, but she was determined to do what was right. Cameron (The Knowing, 2017, etc.) used Stefania's unpublished memoir as well as interviews with family members as source material. She deftly details Fusia's brave actions and includes moving family photographs in the author's note. Narrated in the first person, the story highlights essential events in Fusia's life while maintaining a consistent pace. Readers will be pulled in by the compelling opening and stay for the emotional journey.An inspirational read. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 13-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Sixteen-year-old Stefania Podgorska lives with the Diamant family in Przemysl, Poland, during WWII. When, in 1943, the German army invades her town, her adopted Jewish family is rounded up with other Jews and sent to the ghetto. Stefania is left behind, but she while also caring for her abandoned six-year-old sister, Helena agrees to hide Max Diamant and his friends, who escaped the ghetto. For almost two years, Stefania and Helena live in absolute fear of being discovered and killed for helping Jews. Young adult author Cameron (The Knowing, 2017) returns with a new read that conveys the true story of a young Polish girl who hides 13 Jews in her attic. Similar to Kathy Kacer's The Sound of Freedom (2018), Cameron's latest is set during WWII in Poland but gives a more thorough account of the terror that reigned during the war. Empowered by thorough research an author's note details events after the war Cameron successfully conveys horror and bravery in this powerful and captivating novel. A memorable read.--Savannah Patterson Copyright 2020 Booklist



I go to the door, pressing an ear to the wood before I turn the lock. The empty hall outside our room stretches to the other empty rooms of the empty apartment. As it should. Everything is as it should be.And then a noise shoots through the silence. Louder than a gun. A grenade of fear inside my chest. And I know the sound I have missed.Someone is knocking on my front door.They know. They know. They know.The words beat with my blood.Another mattress spring pops, and I feel Helena coming up behind me. She doesn't speak. She is six years old and doesn't have to be told that this is not the time for questions.The knocking comes again, louder, this time with a whisper through the cracks."Stefania?"It's a trick. The Gestapo want me to open the door without a fuss. So they don't have to break it down. So they can give a nice, unblemished apartment to some nice German officer and his law-abiding wife with clean hair and mended stockings.Maybe this means they will shoot us outside, like Mr. Schwarzer.The whisper comes again."Open the door! Fusia!"The Gestapo does not know me by that name.I run for the door, hands out, fingers already searching for the newly repaired lock. I know it isn't him. It can't be him. But I fumble and twist at the lock anyway, then fling open the door. Helena gasps. Or maybe the gasp came from me. Because the bare bulb hanging in the hallway has shown me that it's not him. It's not who I thought it would be at all. Excerpted from The Light in Hidden Places by Sharon Cameron All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.