Set in post World War II Hungary, Kata Steiner and her Jewish family have survived the Holocaust, but are still finding life difficult. Kata is only eleven years old, still very much a child, forced to face some grown-up problems. Her father lost the factory he once owned, and is finding life difficult under the control of the Hungarian Workers Party, suffering from depression. Kata's mother tries to help the family by selling stuffed bears that she sews for customers - something she must do in secret. And Bela, Kata's brother disappears mysteriously, a fact the family must keep secret.
Sprinkled throughout this story are Kata's memories of her life during World War II, when she and her brother were sent to live in the country with their aunt.
While the end of World War II did bring an end to the fighting going on in Europe, it certainly did not bring an end to the suffering felt by the citizens. Cheng's novel explores another aspect of life during this time period and how Hungary's citizens were affected by the war.
I wish Cheng had provided more closure for these characters; I am still wondering how events in their lives played out as more time passed and they continued to work toward regaining some normalcy and freedom.