December 2022 Indie Next List
“Gretel Fernsby is a character for the ages! She’s a 91-year-old full of guilt with stories to tell. Boyne writes her with great compassion — maybe more than she deserves — and brings alive a story spanning decades and continents.”
— Claire Benedict, Bear Pond Books, Montpelier, VT
From the New York Times bestselling author John Boyne, a devastating, beautiful story about a woman who must confront the sins of her own terrible past, and a present in which it is never too late for bravery
Ninety-one-year-old Gretel Fernsby has lived in the same well-to-do mansion block in London for decades. She lives a quiet, comfortable life, despite her deeply disturbing, dark past. She doesn't talk about her escape from Nazi Germany at age 12. She doesn't talk about the grim post-war years in France with her mother. Most of all, she doesn't talk about her father, who was the commandant of one of the Reich's most notorious extermination camps.
Then, a new family moves into the apartment below her. In spite of herself, Gretel can't help but begin a friendship with the little boy, Henry, though his presence brings back memories she would rather forget. One night, she witnesses a disturbing, violent argument between Henry's beautiful mother and his arrogant father, one that threatens Gretel's hard-won, self-contained existence. All The Broken Places
moves back and forth in time between Gretel's girlhood in Germany to present-day London as a woman whose life has been haunted by the past. Now, Gretel faces a similar crossroads to one she encountered long ago. Back then, she denied her own complicity, but now, faced with a chance to interrogate her guilt, grief and remorse, she can choose to save a young boy. If she does, she will be forced to reveal the secrets she has spent a lifetime protecting. This time, she can make a different choice than before--whatever the cost to herself....