Who is Abby? She is the perfect mixture of all the things I'd love to be and the best parts of me. She is braver and more cool-headed than I am; she is also observant, introspective, and selfless. Abby is the heroine of my current work-in-progress.
Two-thirds of the first draft of this novel are complete. I began laying down the foundations of this book this year; having Abby's backstory in my head for nearly eight years has helped me develop this story pretty quickly.
Allow me to properly introduce you to Abby, via her backstory.
Abby is the only child of Joseph and Hedda Lieb. She was born and raised in a suburb of Berlin, in an apartment above their family shoe store. They were not rich, but they certainly were not poor.
1922 is the year that her parents call the "Year of the Liebs" because as her parents explain, "In that year all of our dreams came true. We opened our shop and we had you."
Life was simple: school, sketch, work in the shop, sketch, homework, sketch. During school breaks their little family took annual holidays to Paris to visit her aunt Josetta, Papa's twin sister. Aunt Josetta lived in Paris with her husband Alec and their sweet little girl Leone—Abby's favorite person in the world, besides Mama and Papa. Aunt Josetta and Uncle Alec were rich, so, Paris vacations often turned into trips to their home in Lyon—the city where Leone's name was derived from—and a rental in the South of France.
Life was perfect until just after her fifteenth birthday, when all of a sudden her best friend Maks stopped talking to her altogether. Abby wasn't the most social kid at school, and Maks was her only friend. They had played together since they were toddlers. Their families even attended the same synagogue. Why did he cut her off with no explanation?
A year and two months—not that she's counting—passed by before he ever said another word to her. When he finally did, it was because of Kristallnacht.
For those of you who don't know what Kristallnacht is, let me describe it this way: it was the night when whatever hope (or denial) that some Jews still had with respect to their people in Hitler's Germany at the time, was shattered—in the literal sense of the word. Anti-Jewish behavior hit a new high on November 9, 1938, the evening known also as the Night of Broken Glass. Mobs of Germans burned down synagogues and Jewish owned businesses. Jewish owned homes were vandalized and dozens of arrests of Jews were carried out.
This is the night that my novel begins. It no longer mattered who was talking to who anymore, Abby knows this. She also knew that this night would mark an irreversible change in the lives of the Liebs. All that mattered from then on out was survival.
What will become of Abby's family? Will Maks be there for her? She needs his friendship now more than ever.
As you can see, my novel is a historical fiction. Works of historical fiction require a lot of research, of which I have done a lot of. I've read dozens of history books on the topics of World War II, Paris before and during the occupation, and the Holocaust. I have put a lot of care to not only get the details right, but to respect and honor those who suffered during one of the ugliest periods in history. History and English were my favorite subjects in grammar school, high school, and university; it makes sense that the story that burned inside of me these last eight years would be a combination of these two subjects.
Thank you for allowing me to share this small snippet about my current project. Stay tuned as I continue to share more bits and details!