Why do you think there was no laughing between Mrs. Johansen and her brother as they sat down to talk?  

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Life is different for everyone now. The carefree days before the war are no more, and so laughter has been replaced by stony silence. When Annemarie used to visit her mother's home it was always a time of great happiness and laughter. She remembers how she and the other children used to be tucked up safe and warm upstairs while the adults were laughing downstairs. At that time, everyone knew where they were in life; they could feel contented and secure.

But not anymore. With the Nazis in control of Denmark, and with Annemarie's family involved in the risky business of rescuing Jews, the distinction between adults and children has been blurred. Everyone's now in the same boat; everyone's subject to the same overwhelming fear and anxiety. In such a tense environment, there's simply no place for the carefree laughter of days gone by.

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Although there was usually laughter when Mrs. Johansen and her brother, Henrik, when they spoke, there was none on this night because the subjects they were discussing were so serious. The book is set in Denmark in 1943. The Nazis are "relocating" Copenhagen's Jews and the Johansen's friends, the Rosens, are Jewish. The discussion that Annemarie's mother is having with Henrik is about how to save the Rosens from being sent to concentrations camps and near certain death. Henrik is a fisherman and has been smuggling Jews by boat to Sweden. Annemarie's family takes in her friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their third daughter, using Lise's baby pictures to explain Ellen's dark hair. The Rosens are successfully smuggled out of Denmark through use of a coffin, Henrik's boat, and a cloth containing a chemical that confuses the Nazi's dogs ability to detect humans.

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