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Noa was sixteen years old when she cast out in disgrace from her family's home after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier. With nowhere to go and barely any possessions, she heads to the city to a shelter where her baby will be given to a family in need. After delivering her child, she has to leave the shelter to locate a job to support herself. She finds employment at a small rail station where she cleans and lives in a small utility closet. However, one faithful night, Noa stumbles upon a boxcar containing several Jewish infants who are bound for a concentration camp. She is unsure what to do, but one infant catches her attention, he reminds me her of her own beloved child she had to give up. She steals the child and seeks refugee, but fears the German soldiers would locate her and the child. Noa escapes into the forest under the protection of the snowy night, but with her meager clothing and provisions; her journey ends abruptly. When she recovers, she finds a safe haven among a traveling German circus, where she must learn the flying trapeze act to blend in and to earn her keep.
Astrid is the lead aerialist of the German circus and she doesn't believe Noa has the skills necessary to learn the act. Whether it is because of jealousy or Astrid's past, she has a hard time warming up to Noa even though she is Noa's only lifeline and flying trapeze instructor. However, slowly Astrid warms up to Noa but is unable to trust Noa. Will Noa's secret destroy their friendship? Will their friendship be able to help them survive?
When I first picked up this book, I thought it was going to be about an abandoned child who conquers the world against all odds. Then I read the summary, it seemed interesting as a beach read or maybe something to read while commuting. However, I am ashamed of myself for putting down one of the most heart warming and interesting books I read this season. The dual narrated novel captivated my heart and I couldn't help rooting for Noa's and Astrid's friendship. I wish every single human on this planet had a person like Astrid and Noa in their lives.They truly define what it means for someone to be a friend. There were times, that the two characters did act a bit petty and I found Noa's secret to be an "insignificant" (for a lack of better words), compared to Astrid's own life, but I can't judge because I don't know what it feels like to live during that horrendous time. Perhaps, if I was in Astrid's shoes and I found someone I liked during a time of uncertainty, but I felt they weren't being completely honest, but I would also behave like a "high school" girl. I think one of the reasons why, some readers might think it felt like a "high school" cliche is because maybe Noa and Astrid never really had strong female friendships. Noa seemed to be secluded in her small village and Astrid focused mostly on her career and none of the other performers in the circus seem to like her much either. Speaking from my own high school female friendship, I also had petty moments and moments of fiercely protecting my friend. Personally speaking apart from minor "She hates me!" moments, I found the book very enjoyable and I look forward to reading other works by the author.