"You're my first boy, Cooper, my first boy," grandfather says just before he dies. All alone in the world, without even a dog, the only thing that keeps Cooper going is running the dairy farm.
Suddenly, black sedans are swarming all around Cooper's small New Hampshire town, driven by mysterious men in dark suits. Cooper's barn is burned to the ground, and his house is broken into and searched during the night. The President of the United States calls on Cooper for a visit, and her opponent wants Cooper to join him on the campaign trail.
Who exactly is Cooper Jewett, and what does the government want with him?
"Everyone gathers around, and from her lips to their ears the stories go, and for a little while the camp disappears, and for a little while they are all free."
As night falls, the women gather their children to listen to Mara tell her stories. They are stories of light and hope and freedom, stories of despair and stories of miracles, stories of expected pain and stories of unexpected joy--all told in the darkness of the concentration camp barracks.
Through extensive research noted in the back of the book, Gary Schmidt has skillfully woven together stories from such sources as the Jewish religious scholar, Martin Buber, Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel; and folklorists, Steve Zeitlin and Yaffa Eliach.
Combining lore of the past with tales born in the concentration camps, Mara's stories speak to us from a time that must never be forgotten.