Translated from the Australian novel, The Wrong Boy.
'I'd always performed best in front of an audience. It was easier to play warmed by the smiles, buoyed by the audience's expectations, jolted by the extra electricity an audience provides. But not this time. Not here. I wasn't on stage. There were no draped velvet curtains and no chandeliers. I was wearing a dead girl's dress; and no matter how well I played there would be no applause.'
A young Jewish pianist at Auschwitz, desperate to save her family, is chosen to play at the camp commander's house. How could she know she would fall in love with the wrong boy?
"Look after each other... and get home safe. And when you do, tell everyone what you saw and what they did to us.'' These are Hanna's father's parting words to her and her sister when their family is separated at the gates of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Her father's words—and a black C-sharp piano key hidden away in the folds of her dress—are all that Hanna has left to remind her of life before. Before, Hanna was going to be a famous concert pianist. She was going to wear her yellow dress to a dance. And she was going to dance with a boy. But then the Nazis came. Now it is up to Hanna to do all she can to keep her mother and sister alive, even if that means playing piano for the Commandant and his son, Karl. Karl Jager is beautiful - and aloof - and Hanna hates him, but the longer she goes to the house, the more she realises there are other things going on. Secret things. Karl may not be the person she thinks he is and before she knows it, Hanna has fallen in love with the wrong boy.
Hanna Mendels Chans is a raw and powerful meditation on survival, hope and understanding, tackled masterfully by Suzy, and sure to linger on in the minds of its readers long after the final page is turned.