This is the story of a family. And a war.
Mira Kane lives with her family in Brooklyn during World War II. Her father is the owner of a successful knitting company, women’s clothing is their specialty. Mira is eighteen and wants to be a fashion designer.
Rosha Kaninsky is her cousin, living in Vilna, when the war gets ugly for Jews in Europe. While being rounded up by the Germans, Rosha’s father – the brother of the Mr. Kane in Brooklyn – dares to give his daughter to the village’s Polish Catholic candlemaker. The Kane family is told the Kaninsky’s were all murdered in the roundup of their village. Because of this Mira’s father draws the strings around his family in Brooklyn to protect (read: smother) his family from the world.
Mira is frustrated that she is no longer allowed to go to school to learn fashion design, works for her father at the knitting company, doing the same. Her life is forever altered as is her young cousin’s in Vilna. Rosha is hidden and protected during the war by the candlemaker and is the only survivor of her family.
This is the story of those that left and those that chose to stay behind. The story of parallel lives and contrasts. The story of riding out the storm and surviving the best way they know how.
What’s the “sweetness?” As the Kaninsky family is being rounded up, oblivious of where they are going and what will happen to them, the grandmother takes only a jug of water and some lemons. Little Rosha asks her why she is carrying just that and her grandmother tells her it is “something sour to remind me of the sweetness.” And that is the last time Rosha sees or talks to her grandmother.