This is the story of 13 year-old Miriam Kornitsky’s courageous five-year survival in the forests of White Russia. The year is 1941 and her father insists that she and her older cousin Sonia hide in the forest from the advancing German soldiers. He warns her to trust no one. Her cousin is shot and killed when they ventured out of the forest to find food and water. Now on her own, Miriam relies on the survival lessons her father taught her as a young child. During the summers she survives on berries, weeds and tubers. In the winter she ventures out to find molasses cubes in barns outside the forest never staying long enough to get caught. At first she finds plenty of clothing from the dead who did not escape the repeated firing from German soldiers on the ground and from above.
After five years in the forest Miriam discovers that the war is over. She is befriended by a young Russian girl whose family nurses her back to health. Few people who escaped into the Polish and Russian forests survived but Miriam did. Her determination to live is a wonderful testament to the human spirit. This is a heartwarming story for both teens and adults. In the late 1950’s Miriam and her husband settled in St. Louis where she lives today.