Dalya is the daughter of a cobbler in 1930s Berlin, and though she is only fifteen, she knows she will follow in her father’s footsteps. When she is forced into a concentration camp one violent November night, she must leave behind everything she knows and loves.
Ray is a modern day orphan, jagged around the edges in every possible way. She sees an impulsive escape to New York as her only chance at happiness; there, she knows she’ll be able to reconstruct her sorrows as songs.
Pinny is an unwavering optimist and Ray’s unintended travel companion on her passage to a new life. She inherited from her eccentric mother a fascination with shoes as a means of transformation and expression.
A single pair of shoes entwines these lives. How these women connect across different times and places is an unforgettable story of strength, love, bravery, memory, and the serendipity that binds us all together.
Shoes are the keepers of secrets. They hold pieces of history captive in their soles. A single sliver of glass from a night of terror long ago, buried in the worn heel of an oxford. A grain of sand from Coney Island beach, trapped under the insole of a silver stiletto, an accidental souvenir from an enchanted moonlit tryst. Bits of Houston Black soil beaten into the trenches of a pink sneaker from a frantic run for survival. A priceless heirloom locked away in the hollow heel of a delicate dress shoe, marking a quiet act of bravery one chilly November night….
A pair of shoes can enchant an onlooker, transform a wearer, cradle tiny toes, or sustain an aching arch for one last mile. Yes, a shoe can even save a life. And sometimes, when fate and magic mingle, an extraordinary shoe can walk into many lives, and change them all.
A 2016 Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Teen Readers
“Part realistic fiction, part fairy tale, and part historical fiction, this novel is all heart. A tender novel about connections, friendship, love, and loss.”–Booklist
“Nelson addresses complex themes such racism, morality, discrimination, and self-esteem, all with exceptional tact and sensitivity. This uplifting story depicts the best and worst in humanity and the true strength of the human spirit…..inspiring.”–School Library Journal
“An absorbing convergence of coming-of-age stories as well as a thoughtful meditation on shoes and all that they witness and represent.”–Kirkus Reviews