Laura has just three weeks to go before her Jewish "coming of age" ceremony, called a Bat Mitzvah, when she is assigned a special project. She is to read the diary of Sara Gittler, a young girl her own age who was imprisoned by the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust. Sara never had the chance to celebrate her coming of age, so Laura is to learn about Sara's life and then share her Bat Mitzvah with her "twin" by speaking of her at the ceremony.
It's a dangerous time for 13-year-old Clara and her family. They have just been imprisoned in Terezin (Terezinstadt), a ghetto in a medieval town near Prague - which was built to show the world how "well" the Nazis were treating Jews during the Second World War. Here Clara encounters hunger, disease and filthy living conditions. Even worse is the constant threat of being deported to concentration camps where the possibility of death awaits her.
After a fire destroys the orphanage, clues about Sara's parentage, a medical certificate, and a Star of David lead her to Germany. Sara arrives in Germany determined to explore her newly discovered Jewish heritage and solve the mystery of her parentage. What she encounters is a country still dealing with the aftermath of the Holocaust. With the help of a handsome, English-speaking German boy, she discovers the sad facts of her mother's brief existence and faces the horrible truth about her father.