I was 12 when the coat was made. Nathan, our tailor and dear friend, cut it for Grandfather in the first week of March 1938. It was the last week of freedom for Warsaw and for us...Even in the most difficult of lives, there is hope. And sometimes that hope comes in the form of a small boy, armed with a troupe of puppets - a prince, a girl, a fool, a crocodile with half-painted teeth....When Mika's grandfather dies in the Warsaw ghetto, he inherits not only his great coat, but its treasure trove of secrets.
"Oh my, what a disappointment..."
Shortly after her 13th birthday, Ritva is sent away to Seili, an island in the far north of Finland. A former leper colony, Seili is now home to 'hopeless cases' - women the doctors call mad. But Ritva knows she doesn't belong there. As biting winter follows biting winter, she longs to be near to her sister and wonders why her father ever allowed her to be taken to this desolate place. Hope arrives in the form of Martta, a headstrong girl who becomes Ritva's only friend.