“ A tour de force, a work of art, an insightful commentary on the horrors and pointlessness of war and violence, a love story . . . so beautifully written that it hurts . . . Gripping from start to finish . . . One of the best novels I have read this year. Actually, maybe one of the best novels I have read, period.” —Booksellers NZ
Germany, 1939. Two children watch as their parents become immersed in the puzzling mechanisms of power. Siggi lives in the affluent ignorance of middle-class Berlin, her father a censor who excises prohibited words ("promise", "love", "mercy") from books. Erich is an only child living a lush rural life near Leipzig, tending beehives, aware that he is shadowed by strange, unanswered questions.
Drawn together as Germany's hope for a glorious future begins to collapse, the children find temporary refuge in an abandoned theater amid the rubble of Berlin. Outside, white bedsheets hang from windows; all over the city people are talking of surrender. The days Siggi and Erich spend together will shape the rest of their lives.
Watching over Siggi and Erich is the wish child, the mysterious narrator of their story. He sees what they see, he feels what they feel, yet his is a voice that comes from deep inside the wreckage of a nation's dream.