The Woman With the Blue Star

September 1, 2020

1942. Sadie Gault is eigh­teen and liv­ing with her par­ents amid the hor­rors of the Kraków Ghet­to dur­ing World War II. When the Nazis liq­ui­date the ghet­to, Sadie and her preg­nant moth­er are forced to seek refuge in the per­ilous sew­ers beneath the city. One day Sadie looks up through a grate and sees a girl about her own age buy­ing flowers.

Ella Stepanek is an afflu­ent Pol­ish girl liv­ing a life of rel­a­tive ease with her step­moth­er, who has devel­oped close alliances with the occu­py­ing Ger­mans. Scorned by her friends and long­ing for her fiancé, who has gone off to war, Ella wan­ders Kraków rest­less­ly. While on an errand in the mar­ket, she catch­es a glimpse of some­thing mov­ing beneath a grate in the street. Upon clos­er inspec­tion, she real­izes it’s a girl hiding.

Ella begins to aid Sadie and the two become close, but as the dan­gers of the war wors­en, their lives are set on a col­li­sion course that will test them in the face of over­whelm­ing odds. Inspired by har­row­ing true sto­ries, The Woman with the Blue Star is an emo­tion­al tes­ta­ment to the pow­er of friend­ship and the extra­or­di­nary strength of the human will to survive.

Discussion Questions

Cour­tesy of Pam Jenoff

Down­load the full book club kit at https://​pam​jenoff​.com/​r​e​a​d​e​r​s​-​g​u​ides/
  1. Who did you iden­ti­fy with more, Sadie or Ella? Why?

  2. Why do you think Sadie and Ella were drawn to one anoth­er so powerfully?

  3. What par­al­lels can you draw between Sadie’s and Ella’s lives and the very unique time we are liv­ing in today?

  4. Sadie and Ella were both shak­en from their lives from the war and thrust into new expe­ri­ences that changed and chal­lenged them. Can you describe a sim­i­lar time in your own life?

  5. Do you agree with Sadie’s choic­es? Ella’s? Why or why not? What, if any­thing, would you have done differently?

  6. Were you sur­prised by the end of the book? Sat­is­fied? Or did you wish it had turned out differently?

  7. What are some of the key themes of the book?

  8. Describe some of the fam­i­ly dynam­ics of the story.

  9. The sew­er was a very unique set­ting. What was your reac­tion to it?

  10. Iso­la­tion and con­nec­tion were among the key themes of this book. Dis­cuss how they affect­ed the story.

  11. Did you learn any­thing new about his­to­ry that sur­prised you from this book?