By Steve Ross
With Glenn Frank
With Brian Wallace
Foreword by Ray Flynn
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On August 14, 2017, two days after a white-supremacist activist rammed his car into a group of anti-Fascist protestors, killing one and injuring nineteen, the New England Holocaust Memorial was vandalized for the second time in as many months. At the base of one of its fifty-four-foot glass towers lay a pile of shards. For Steve Ross, the image called to mind Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass in which German authorities ransacked Jewish-owned buildings with sledgehammers.
Ross was eight years old when the Nazis invaded his Polish village, forcing his family to flee. He spent his next six years in a day-to-day struggle to survive the notorious camps in which he was imprisoned, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Dachau among them. When he was finally liberated, he no longer knew how old he was, he was literally starving to death, and everyone in his family except for his brother had been killed.
Ross learned in his darkest experiences–by observing and enduring inconceivable cruelty as well as by receiving compassion from caring fellow prisoners–the human capacity to rise above even the bleakest circumstances. He decided to devote himself to underprivileged youth, aiming to ensure that despite the obstacles in their lives they would never experience suffering like he had. Over the course of a nearly forty-year career as a psychologist working in the Boston city schools, that was exactly what he did. At the end of his career, he spearheaded the creation of the New England Holocaust Memorial, a site millions of people including young students visit every year.
Equal parts heartrending, brutal, and inspiring, From Broken Glass is the story of how one man survived the unimaginable and helped lead a new generation to forge a more compassionate world.
The road from Warsaw to Krasnik was heavy with gloom. Along it, miles of forests, filled with arrow-straight deciduous trees, merged into the gray winter sky. Occasionally, a small farmhouse would dot the landscape.
On that day, it was cold with a wet snow falling. It was seventy-one years after the Holocaust. It happened to be my birthday, but it felt joyless as my mind was elsewhere. I was imagining how cold my father, Steve Ross, must have been, surviving five of these winters, wearing only paper-thin pajamas. These were the woods he attempted to hide in, only to be captured by Nazis and sent to a series of ten concentration camps until his liberation from Dachau on April 29, 1945.
The purpose of my visit to Krasnik was to trace the final days of my father’s murdered family—my grandparents, six aunts and uncles, and two cousins. After the Nazis arrived in Lodz in September 1939, my father, then an eight-year-old boy, and his family fled from their home with whatever possessions they could carry. They headed eastward, attempting to reach the Russian border. Instead, they were trapped in Krasnik, a small town near Lublin.
My guidepost in tracing my father’s steps was his recent manuscript, which had been painstakingly assembled by a team of dedicated friends and writers. The story of his life, now the subject of this book, is what directed my steps to learn my family’s past, and in so doing to better understand my own.
Arriving at the small archives office, I was struck by how the bureaucratic workers emotionlessly processed our slips of papers. They returned with giant stacks of dusty ledgers, the ruled pages inside filled with barely legible handwritten notations, fading from decades of age.
For hours, three of us—me, my fiancée Karolina, and our guide Krysztof—pored over the books, nibbling on the leftover breakfast rolls we’d tucked into our bags. Turning the brittle pages, I suddenly came across a page with rows of the name Rozental, my father’s surname before it was changed to Ross by US immigration officials. Tracing the rows of my family’s names across the page, under the column listing the next place of residence were the letters ND—the Polish abbreviation for nie dotyczy, meaning “does not apply.” I understood, then, that this was all that was left of my family.
A wave of emotion hit me, and uncontrollably I wept, while Karolina tried to console me with her embrace. It wasn’t that I had believed my relatives had somehow survived; rather, I was struck by the complicit documentation of murder, and realized that this cold page would serve as the closest thing to a final resting place where I could mourn.
I learned something else that day—something hopeful amid a period of hopelessness. In the final days before the liquidation of the Krasnik ghetto, when the remaining Jews were sent to concentration camps, my grandmother sensed the end was near. She made the extraordinary decision to give away her youngest child—my father—in the hope that he might survive.
Knocking on the door of a family she’d never met, she pleaded with them to take young Szmulek. Reluctantly they did, despite reports of neighbors being sentenced to death for harboring Jews.
With this decision, the family of farmers saved my father’s life. In the few months that he was with them, he avoided the same fate of my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. While he would go on to endure unthinkable cruelty, starvation, and torture, he would survive, as would his eldest brother, whom I would know as my uncle Harry.
And so my search began anew. This time I was searching not for my family, but for the strangers who’d saved my father’s life. I learned their name was Sadowsky. As this book was being published, our guide Krysztof was actively searching archived public school records to find the family’s descendants. I would want them to know that the act of taking my father into the family home that day is why he survived, and why our family—myself, my sister Julie, and her son Joseph—are alive today.
My father had been searching for another man as well. Throughout his life, one person had served as his greatest influence. Although he’d met the man only briefly, that brief moment rekindled his will to live.
It was an American tank commander who liberated Dachau. When he saw young Szmulek Rozental walking past him, he hopped off his tank, put his arms around my father, and spoke the first kind words he had heard in five bitter years. He held him and gave him food to eat.
My father spoke about it on the television series Unsolved Mysteries as he was searching for the soldier.
“He looked to me as though he was rough and tough, and yet he knew how to put his arm around me, at that time in my life, when nobody’s ever done that before,” he said.
“If I could ever find that soldier, I would say to him that he is part of my life. He would be part of my family. I would want him to know that what he has done for me… I emulated, and that I love people because of him.”
My father would spend his entire life searching for him. While doing so, he was never without the forty-eight-star American flag that the soldier gave to him. That flag, some additional details that he recalled, and a tireless passion to be reunited with his liberator are all part of my father’s story as told here.
The story, of course, includes his improbable survival through Hitler’s death camps, including his escape from Auschwitz. It also includes what he did when he arrived in the United States, and how he spent every waking minute giving back to the country that had freed him from the gates of Hell.
He gave back by working as a social worker on the streets of Boston: attending to at-risk youth, making sure they went to school and later to college. He helped thousands of kids with a driven intensity. By fixing the broken lives of others, he, in a way, could fix his own.
Later in life, many of those he helped and worked with had become successful business leaders, attorneys, and legislators. Together, along with the help of Boston’s Mayor Ray Flynn, they allowed him to fulfill his dream of building a memorial to those who perished. A place for him—and all of us—to mourn the family we lost. Today the New England Holocaust Memorial sits prominently along Boston’s Freedom Trail, and is visited by millions of people each year.
In 2017, the memorial took on a most unfortunate designation—a victim of anti-Semitism. For twenty-two years the nearly all-glass edifice stood as a gleaming memorial to both the memory of a people and the values held by the community in which it sits. But just days after white nationalists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting “Jews will not replace us” and left injury and death in their wake, one of the memorial’s panels was shattered in an act of vandalism in the dark of night. It was the second time that summer a panel was destroyed. This vandalism—along with the news that far-right activists were planning a Boston-based follow-up rally to the one that had turned deadly in Charlottesville—inspired a counterprotest by 50,000 people who marched into downtown Boston the following weekend to stand up against hatred. At the rededication of the memorial, my father and I listened as the speakers made references to Kristallnacht—the Night of Broken Glass—the bloody Berlin pogrom that revealed to the world the true intent of Hitler’s plans for the Jewish people. It was not lost on any of those in attendance that, here again, we were forced to rebuild from broken glass. But we would not allow ourselves to rediscover how easily a society can slide into violence. As the German Jewish poet Heinrich Heine wrote in 1820, “Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people.” We didn’t need anyone to remind us that the same might be said of places where anyone tolerates the shattering of our treasures.
That the memorial was desecrated twice during the writing of this book only makes me firmer in my belief that everyone throughout the world should know this story, not only so that we can learn more about the darkest chapter in human history, but also so that we can work together to create a world where such an atrocity as the Holocaust can never be repeated. I hope, too, that readers will learn how every single act of kindness, bravery, and defiance, no matter how small, can inspire hope and renewal for generations to come.
From Broken Glass
People say the phrase all the time: Never forget. Never forget. They say it in synagogues on the Sabbath and in churches when they talk about cruelty in the world. They say it whenever a Holocaust survivor passes on, at memorial events across the country. Never forget. Never forget. Famous people have created foundations so that we all never forget. Even some of the concentration camps are now preserved as museums so that people remember what happened there.
Sometimes when I think of those words I get confused. I know they mean that we don’t want our sons and daughters and grandchildren to fail to remember the truth, and that we want those who hold power to understand that this cannot be allowed to happen again. I know the phrase means that we want future generations of people all over the world to withstand the powers of hate; to stand up to indignities; to not let any one group of people be blamed for the wrongs of the world and be subject to extermination. I know all that. And I want those things, too.
But sometimes, I think to myself, I would do anything to forget.
I want so badly to forget that it makes me cry. I wish for just one day, for one hour, or even a single moment, I could be free of the memories; I wish I could feel like what happened to me never occurred; I wish I could erase it all and have a few hours of precious peace. The refrain Never forget sometimes sounds to me like my curse. I know in my heart this is selfish. I know others have endured as much as or more than I have; I knew so many who never made it. I am eighty-seven years old now, and I remain searching for that moment when I am able to forget the people we lost.
My name is Steve Ross, though that is not the name I first knew. When I was born I was Szmulek Rozental. My life began in Lodz, Poland, in 1931.
The Trouble in the World
When you’re eight, you do not understand that the world has trouble in it. You do not realize how your life can change in just an instant. You do not see that bad things can happen. I was eight in 1939.
That summer did not seem different to me from any summer that had come before it. July and August were dry and warm; Kammiena #3, our street, seemed dusty and sticky; and the sun stayed out late and rose early over our apartment. Wagons and horses made their familiar and constant clatter on the parched cobblestones, the animals and their loads carrying food and wares from one enclave to another. Polish soldiers often rode or walked by our yard as well, some looking stern and mean, but others, in groups, laughing or pushing at their friends. My grandmother and my mother always stopped whatever they were doing in the kitchen when they heard the soldiers talking outside. Nervous creases crossed their faces, and I wondered why they looked so scared. “Don’t worry, Babsa,” I shouted to my grandmother as I raced outside to see where the soldiers were going. I hoped somehow that I could make friends with them and keep my family from having to be concerned.
“Szmulek, come back at once,” my mother would shout. “Those are not nice men.”
Our apartment was on the third floor of a three-story walk-up, and the wooden stairs creaked and groaned with every step. My legs were small and my shoes were often worn and tattered, but to keep Mrs. Tzilcic from yelling when I passed I tried to jump from landing to landing, hoping she and the other the mothers and grandmothers in our building wouldn’t stop what they were doing and scold me for making noise. “We can’t sleep at night with your family upstairs,” Mrs. Tzilcic called out to me. “There are too many people crowded into your tiny space, all snoring and shifting around above us. Even Grandma Jietta is complaining from this.” I was fairly certain Grandma Jietta did not complain. Not a day ever went by in winter or summer when she was not perched in the window watching my friends and me playing in the yard, a smile on her face we could all see clearly even three floors below. We always waved, and she always waved back.
“Mrs. Tzilcic said we make too much noise at night,” I told my brother Herzil. “She said we keep Grandma Jietta awake at night.”
“Mrs. Tzilcic is a nag,” he said. “Grandma Jietta is deaf and her legs don’t work. Besides, she likes us.”
The yard at the front of our building was flat and wide, and Kammiena #3 was covered in concrete. My father would spend all day running the village butcher shop around the corner, and when we were done with shul I would hang out in the backyard with our neighbor Pinia, whose father was the local baker.
I could not remember a day when Pinia and I were not together. He had a round face and red cheeks, hair like a floppy brown hat rising from his head and sagging forward near his eyes. He was always smiling and looking expectant, as if something wonderful lay over the horizon, and whenever anyone dared to tease or scold us, he would puff up his chest in defiance.
“This is Szmulek, and when he grows up he will be better than you,” he’d say. “He will be a great man.” Sometimes he would call me “the philosopher king.” I have no idea where he got these ideas, but it always made me laugh when he expressed them—out of bashful embarrassment if nothing else. Then Pinia would grin at me and nod as if to say: Let’s go. I’ve told them what is going to happen.
We didn’t have toys, so we spent hours flipping nuts or teaching each other songs, and when the unusual happened and an automobile or a truck rumbled by, we chased after it hoping desperately to inhale the smell of the strange new gas engines and feel the smoke on our tongues. When we did we jumped and giggled and squinted at our good fortune, then dodged the horses and farm carts that were agitated by the loud and fast machines that had passed them.
At some point in the evening my father would return, the tang of blood wafting into the house behind him. He would find me in the yard and kiss me, and I would feel the whiskers of his beard tickle my cheeks. Gray had begun to streak onto his beard and sideburns, and his eyes were deep and kind and tired. “I will kiss you until your nose wears down to just a nub,” he would say.
Though his meat cutting did not make him large profits, in the Talmud he found enough to fill his heart. “Study,” he told me, “and the words of God will tell you what to do.” He studied long and hard and I think now and then that he prayed he would always be able to feed his family. “God always has a reason,” he would sometimes say. And though there was much truth to what he taught me, I’ve found that last lesson the hardest to unlearn.
I was the youngest child. My parents were in their forties by the time they’d had me. I don’t think I was planned, but it didn’t matter.
My older brother, Herzil, was in charge of the electricity at the synagogue.
I remember being filled with joy and laughter when I saw him finish wiring the building and turn on the first bulb he’d installed. It was the night before the Sabbath service and the sanctuary was empty. “Magic,” he told me when the bulb began to glow, and I believed him.
Two of my sisters, Bella and Lonia, lived in other apartments, though not too far away, and they each had three children and lives of their own but my mother and Babsa in particular worried for them often. “Abe says the Germans will come and that they are dangerous,” Babsa said, repeating what one of her friends had warned over and over, every time he came to the house.
“Not in front of Szmulek,” my mother said. “Later we will discuss the Germans.”
A Life in America
In the many decades I’ve spent in Boston, I’ve taken part in projects I never dreamed I’d live to work on, shaken the hands of political leaders that I’d been taught by the Nazi guards and capos throughout my childhood would never want to associate with a person like me, and had the blessing of working with students in some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods and finding myself as inspired by them as I hope they were by me. But spearheading the creation of the New England Holocaust Memorial—what would become one of Boston’s most visited landmarks—is the thing that I am most proud of.
To be sure, I am not alone responsible. The effort to build a memorial in Boston was carried forth by the many people who donated money and time and energy, the politicians who helped smooth the path, the corporations that gave assistance, and the volunteers who worked so hard to push the initiative ahead. Still, notwithstanding their undoubtedly crucial efforts, I do feel responsible for the memorial in a certain way. And not just because I talked to mayors and local executives and celebrities and convinced them to work together to support it; not just because I worked for years to get the right design and to find the right location and to convince everyone that the money would be there. No, I feel responsible for it because for decades before this day I have felt answerable to the fact that it didn’t exist, the fact that another year had passed without my family and friends, and the millions of victims I never got the chance to meet, being properly remembered. I am responsible for ensuring the memorial forever stands tall in the heart of the city because I survived.
I am the one who passed through ten concentration camps, starved nearly to death, overcame beatings and sexual abuse, poisoning and terror. I am the one who lived, somehow. Not my brothers and sisters, not my mother and father, not my nieces and nephews, my grandmother, my neighbors, or my friends. Some mornings I still jolt when I wake and remember what happened—that all of them are gone.
What makes the fact of my survival more painful are the reasons that I endured: none, so far as I can gather. I am simply lucky. I am not possessed of any extraordinary skills of pain endurance. I am not stronger than anyone else. I cry and feel agony just like everyone in the world.
People have challenged me throughout my life about my sense of luck. “You are the most unlucky person I know,” I’ve been told. True, I was orphaned by the Holocaust, broken and made witness to—and in a few cases that I wish I could forget, made the target of—cruelties beyond the imagination. But the people who don’t recognize my luck can’t see what I see: that I am here and six million others who endured everything I did had to also give up the biggest thing of all—their lives.
That sense of hopefulness in the face of hardship—combined with the lessons I learned from fellow death camp prisoners about moral courage and human tenderness—is something I tried always to bring to my forty-year career as a public youth counselor working in some of Boston’s poorest neighborhoods.
To all the students who listened, I would tell my story and show that if I can survive what I did, they can face their own struggles, come to grips with the injustices they’re up against, and fight to overcome them, maybe even to prosper.
“Why do you think you lived when everyone else died?” I’ve been asked several times.
“What was it like to work in the incinerator, shoveling the ashes of people you knew?”
“How did you have the courage to hide in the latrine, burying yourself in human shit and piss?”
“Do you ever feel guilt about cutting the line to try to get enough water to survive?”
I would answer every painful question.
Every time I shared my story, I would feel the air shift as I started describing life in the camps, as if I were being transported back there and the students I spoke with were following me through the camp gates. It didn’t matter if the schools I visited were crumbling or overcrowded, the students gathered around me on a gymnasium floor. Their eyes opened wider, conversations stopped. Feet ceased tapping. Eyebrows furrowed.
I still sometimes return to the schools I once worked at to speak to the students, and now I will add a new ending to my story. I will tell them how politicians worked together with the Jewish community to get momentum for our memorial, about how we launched a design competition and selected the six glass towers you see today, about how we manufactured extra glass panes, and about how one special day, the day before the memorial’s dedication, I asked my wife, Mary, my love of thirty-two years, if we could sleep there, out under the stars. Just to feel part of it. She came with me and brought sleeping bags and blankets. The stone of the memorial was cold and hard under our backs. Our children joined us, and some of their friends, too. “We are going to stay with you,” they said, and no matter how much we argued, they wouldn’t leave us and go to their warm beds.
I never told my children of the memory from sixty years prior that came back to me that night in downtown Boston. I was eight and it was autumn in Lodz, and my mother agreed we could have an adventure. Pulling on warm clothes and grabbing my older brother’s long coats, we crept outside searching for a sukkah, a holiday trellis erected to celebrate new beginnings. No one had built one, but we were not interested in anything but sleeping outside. A farmer’s wagon filled with hay became our campground and we slept there buried under the dried stalks.
Cool breezes seemed to sweep over us from every direction, sweet smells drifting from people’s woodstoves. This was home, what my childhood was going to be.
Lying under the stars, staring up at the towers of the memorial, I tried to hold the memory of the farmer’s wagon in my head. I wanted to stay there, in that sweet moment of my past, as long as I could. I wanted to remember my brother’s face and his laugh. I wanted to remember my mother wrapping bread with sugar for us to eat outside. I tried to remember my father warning us to be careful. I tried to focus on my dear family.
Memory, though, sometimes has its own way. What I remembered was the bustling in the distance of soldiers’ boots.
September 8, 1939
The ground in the yard trembled in a way I had not felt before. The occasional truck that had gone by in the past had clattered and sputtered, but this was altogether different. Herzil stopped running with me and his head turned at an angle, as if he could better make out the sound if one ear was tilted closer to the concrete. An anxious look descended over his face.
“Herzil?” I said. “Keep playing.”
His expression confused me. We didn’t get to run and chase in the yard too often since he was home only rarely. “Herzil, chase me again.”
“Hush, Szmulek,” he replied.
I was uneasy.
“Herzil?” I said again.
“Little brother, be quiet,” he scolded me.
Several neighbors appeared in their windows, looking back and forth down Kammiena #3. Two horses tied in the yard began to bray and pull against their bindings, their back ends lurching about as their rear hooves tapped the ground beneath them. Pinia’s father came out of the bakery, brushing flour off his apron, and looked bewildered.
“Are Mama and Papa home?” Herzil asked.
“Yes,” I said.
I hoped the rumbling would stop. My body seemed like it was vibrating in rhythm with the ground; my heart beat in my ears and throat.
“Szmulek, come here,” Herzil said. “Move away from the street.” He began to back up toward the buildings and I realized he was pulling me back with him, his fist around my collar, my legs nearly sliding over the cement yard.
A truck thundered by, its back open to the air where twenty soldiers in yellow uniforms sat in rows, rifles between their knees. A man on his way to evening services at the shul came out of the apartment building and halted abruptly. He squinted at the vehicle, following it as it traveled across the area in front of the yard and disappeared down Kammiena #3. He peered at Herzil and me, still squinting suspiciously, as if we’d somehow made the truck appear.
“And how many have passed?” he asked.
“That is the first,” Herzil said.
Stretching his neck, the man stared straight ahead. I could barely hear him now over the patter of the engines. “There will be more,” he said. He turned and went back inside.
- "Devastating...For decades Ross worked with truants and dropouts in some of Boston's toughest neighborhoods. He had the uncanny ability to get struggling kids back in school and onto good jobs and even into college. His pitch: If he could survive what he did, you could survive anything...[Ross'] story is very painful but so inspirational."—The Today Show
- "From Broken Glass is a captivating and deeply personal story of a young boy's experience in the Holocaust, and the ways that event shaped his life as an adult in America. Ross's remarkably detailed account stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. It is relevant to this day, a reminder of what can happen when we lose sight of the humanity of others in society."—Senator Dianne Feinstein
- "While Ross's is a work of history, it feels timely....Donald Trump's presidency has coincided with a marked uptick in anti-Semitic crimes, including the smashing of two glass panels at the memorial in Boston last year....One of the most striking things about the book is how [Ross] manages to maintain hope."—The Boston Globe
- "Striking, fierce, and ultimately uplifting, From Broken Glass is the moving story of how one man found his moral purpose in the crucible of the Holocaust and waged a life-long war against prejudice in all its forms. Just when we need it most, Steve Ross offers our nation a rallying cry for how we can overcome the hatred that divides us."—Robert Trestan, New England Regional Director, Anti-DefamationLeague
- "Remarkable...a profound and compelling addition to the literature of the Holocaust at a time when it is more critical than ever to understand both the horrifying depths to which its perpetrators sank and the astonishing capacity for generosity and compassion of the heartbreakingly few survivors. No matter how many memoirs of that terrible time you have read, you will find something new in these pages. There are scenes--a Ukrainian child's shiny black boots spattered with blood, a father eating his beloved small son's mouthful of bread--that will haunt me forever. And there are moments also of inspiring tenacity, nearly incomprehensible open-heartedness that I hope never to forget."—Ayelet Waldman, bestselling author of Love and Treasure
- "[Ross] heal[ed] others to heal himself from the horrors of the Holocaust...But the theme that comes through most in From Broken Glass is how utterly impossible it is for those who suffered this greatest of human traumas to ever forget, to fix that which broke them more than seventy years ago."—The Washington Post
- "From Broken Glass reminds us of the depths to which humanity can sink and the heights that the human spirit can reach. Steve Ross tells a remarkable story of survival and shows us how a person of good will and character can persevere through unspeakable tragedy and live a life of generosity and kindness."—Frank S. HollemanIII, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education
- "Steve Ross emerges as a resilient character who is determined not to allow the enemies of the past to re-emerge in the present unchallenged; his book opens with a cri de coeur on Charlottesville, and it ends with a defiant testimonial: 'I am a survivor.' A worthy memoir of dark times, full of practical lessons for resistance and community organizing today."—Kirkus Reviews
- "Throughout his childhood, Steve Ross was given every reason to hate, fear, and withdraw, but instead he has spent his life building a kinder, gentler, more hopeful world. You cannot read Steve's story and resist his contagious optimism for a better tomorrow."—Congressman JoeKennedy III
- "Inspiring...Ross's tale is darkly impressive....hope and resilience live within this man."—The Improper Bostonian
- "Steve Ross is a quiet leader for our city in the things we care about--helping people overcome obstacles, mentoring youth, providing the power of example....As he did this work, Ross brought people together across all kinds of historic boundaries--neighborhoods, races, religions. From Broken Glass is inspiring beyond words."—Marty Walsh, Mayor of Boston
- "A timely and beautiful book." —Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author of Little Failure
- "From Broken Glass is an opportunity to spend time in the presence of an extraordinary man. No one I know of has ever responded to unimaginable brutality with such generosity of deed and spirit, recounted here with understated eloquence."—Congressman BarneyFrank, New York Times bestselling author of Frank: A Life in Politicsfrom the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage
- "Steve Ross's tireless work has helped ensure that the horrors of the Holocaust are never repeated."—Israel Arbeiter,survivor of Auschwitz
- "This moving memoir recounts how Ross, who was born Szmulek Rozental in Poland in 1931, created meaning for himself after the Holocaust..An inspirational account of hope overcoming horror."—Publishers Weekly
- "An introspective memoir about the power of perseverance and compassion....This account will inspire others to work in their communities to help the 'forgotten.'...a necessary and timely addition to Holocaust memoirs."—Library Journal
- On Sale
- May 15, 2018
- Page Count
- 288 pages
- Hachette Books