A Story of Underground Survival in Wartime Poland

Pam Jenoff's 11th novel, The Woman With the Blue Star, was inspired by actual events surrounding Jews who lived in a sewer to avoid the Nazis.

pam jenoff

Right: Author Pam Jenoff. Photo by Mindy Schwartz Sorasky

In her fifth-grade yearbook, Pam Jenoff’s classmates in Evesham foretold her future in four words: “The next Judy Blume.”

That forecast was not far off the mark. While Blume, a native of Elizabeth, is celebrated for her young-adult novels, Jenoff has carved out a niche in historical fiction, with nine of her 11 novels focusing on World War II.

“I have been working with and researching the war for 25 years, and I still find stories that make me gasp,” says the Cherry Hill resident.

That’s the case in her new book, The Woman With the Blue Star, out May 4 from Park Row Books. Inspired by actual events surrounding Jews who lived in an underground sewer in Poland to avoid the Nazis, it’s a stirring tale of survival against overwhelming odds.

[RELATED: Behind the Epic WWI Memorial Being Sculpted in an Englewood Warehouse]

The story unfolds through the eyes of Sadie Gault, a Jew living in the sewer, and Ella Stepanek, a Polish girl who comes to her aid.

Jenoff, a clinical professor at Rutgers Law School in Camden, spent several years as a foreign service officer with the U.S. State Department in Krakow, Poland. “I was moved and changed by the experience of living in Poland, working on Holocaust issues and becoming close to survivors there,” she says. “They inspired me to write books set during the war.”

Meanwhile, her 2019 novel, The Lost Girls of Paris, has been optioned for a limited-run TV series.

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