Caruthers adeptly blends historical facts with fictional elements to bring a brilliant tale of courage, perseverance, family ties, and kindness. Twelve-year-old Vivie and her family are forced to flee for their lives as the Soviet Union invades Hungary. Struggling to make it alive, the family encounter horrific circumstances, but Vivie remains haunted by the fate of Norsk, her beloved feline left behind. When a tragedy shatters the family, Vivie finds herself entrusted with a butcher-paper-wrapped packet containing the family secret. She must protect it while making her way forward in America. Told in crisp, measured prose, the novel crackles with energy. Vivie encounters acute hunger, violence, tragedy, and loss, but she doesn’t let the harshness of her circumstances dictate her life. Vivie’s slowly revealed back story guarantees the pages keep turning. The setting is atmospheric, pacing smooth, and the storyline intriguing. There are some important messages here—that a heart full of empathy and courage is all one needs to make a meaningful difference—and that no matter the circumstances, determination and perseverance are the keys to success. With a rich and realistic setting, a compelling cast of memorable characters, and expert storytelling, this is a surefire winner.