Annemarie and Ellen, who can remember when life was carefree and filled with things like "music and brightly colored lights, the carousel and ice cream", must grow up quickly when the Nazis occupy Denmark. Ellen, who is Jewish, must be separated from her family and masquerade as a member of Annemarie's family, carrying on the pretense convincingly in the face of Nazi inquisition. Annemarie, who always worries she will not be brave enough when the time comes, acts courageously in helping Ellen's family escape, and stands firm when actually confronted by the Nazis. It is hard to remember that the girls are only ten at the time of the story. They act bravely and resourcefully in the face of exceptional hardship, growing up early in action and understanding, that "that's all brave means...not thinking about the dangers...just thinking about what you must do."