I finished this book over the weekend. I really enjoyed it. I liked that while reading something that felt like a novel, I learned the true stories of Warsaw during the war. I learned of the cruelties and of the bravery.
I learned about the Ghetto Uprising when the Jews fought the Germans with rocks, sticks and fists (they had no weapons) and held them off for nearly one month. After the Ghetto fell, the Poles took over with the Warsaw Uprising, in which Antonina's husband Jan went and fought.
I learned that while the Soviets were fighting through from the East, for political reasons, they stopped short of Warsaw and didn't help the Poles fight. They watched thousands die, the rest eventually surrender and then be shipped off to POW camps (including Jan).
After the war was over, people estimate that the population of Warsaw fell from 1.5 million to 500,000. These people came back to a city bombed to the ground. They lived in caves, holes in the ground, etc., because their homes were ransacked and destroyed. The city was then under Soviet rule. The kids went to Soviet school where they were taught that parts of the war never happened.
It was a moving, interesting story. The author really makes you connect to the characters, specifically Antonina. Some parts of it can be a little staggered when she throws in some historical references or jumps to other characters suddenly, but overall, it doesn't take away from the very importance of the story.