In 1941, four extremely different teen boys arrive at a British boarding school. Herschel is a Polish Jew and ghetto escapee, haunted by his past. Erich is German and an ex-Nazi Youth. Jim is an American traveling England in search of adventure. And Gabe is a British-born Italian, a violinist and a closeted homosexual. They have all landed at Wellington's School for Boys, where they are forced together as roommates. The story follows the trials of their unlikely friendship through the Holocaust.
Sunday, March 9, 1941
I’m sitting on a bus full of strangers in a country I first saw a week ago. I know that this is the wrong place to begin my story, but if I don’t calm down I’ll probably throw myself out the window (which I imagine would only make things worse) and at this point writing is the only way for me to calm myself down.
Rebeccagave me this journal back in London. She shouldn’t have spent the money, but I’m glad I have it now. I miss my typewriter back home, but this will have to work for now. I hope Rebecca is all right alone, but I guess she’s handling the sudden change of scene a lot better than me anyway. The whole time we were in London I couldn’t help but feel like I needed her more than she needed me. I need someone to get me through this, and without her I don’t know what I’ll do.
I sure as hell won’t be able to turn to anyone here. I’ll never tell anyone about what happened back home. It’s only not that I don’t want anyone to know, but I just can’t imagine talking about it. It will kill me if I ever have to say it out loud. I can’t even write it down. No one can know about Kristen.
I can see the gates of Wellington’s now. I’ve been waiting to see this place for the past two hours, for my whole life, really. Dad’s talked about it for as long as I can remember. But I don’t relish it all. It’s not that I miss where I came from. There is nothing on earth that could make me go back. But though the past few weeks have been excruciating, they’ve gone incredibly fast. I don’t know if I can handle the world I’ve been tossed into. I need to make myself out to be a fairly normal student in about five minutes, and all this time alone with my thoughts isn’t exactly keeping me sane.
But Poland is far behind me, at least literally, and I know I have to leave everything else behind too.
The bus is stopped at the entrance. Apparently I’m the only one getting off here, so I guess they’re waiting for me. I don’t know what I’ll find behind the gates, but, like it or not, I’m going to find out.