Book details

Impossible Escape

A True Story of Survival and Heroism in Nazi Europe

Author: Steve Sheinkin

Impossible Escape

Impossible Escape


About This Book

From three-time National Book Award finalist and Newbery Honor author Steve Sheinkin, a true story of two Jewish teenagers racing against time during the Holocaust—one in hiding in Hungary,...

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Book Details

From three-time National Book Award finalist and Newbery Honor author Steve Sheinkin, a true story of two Jewish teenagers racing against time during the Holocaust—one in hiding in Hungary, and the other in Auschwitz, plotting escape.

It is 1944. A teenager named Rudolf (Rudi) Vrba has made up his mind. After barely surviving nearly two years in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, he knows he must escape. Even if death is more likely.

Rudi has learned the terrible secret hidden behind the heavily guarded fences of concentration camps across Nazi-occupied Europe: the methodical mass killing of Jewish prisoners. As trains full of people arrive daily, Rudi knows that the murders won’t stop until he reveals the truth to the world—and that each day that passes means more lives are lost.

Lives like Rudi’s schoolmate Gerta Sidonová. Gerta’s family fled from Slovakia to Hungary, where they live under assumed names to hide their Jewish identity. But Hungary is beginning to cave under pressure from German Nazis. Her chances of survival become slimmer by the day.

The clock is ticking. As Gerta inches closer to capture, Rudi and his friend Alfred Wetzler begin their crucial steps towards an impossible escape.

This is the true story of one of the most famous whistleblowers in the world, and how his death-defying escape helped save over 100,000 lives.

Imprint Publisher

Roaring Brook Press



In The News

Sydney Taylor Book Award Honor Book

★ "Passionate, absorbing, and, unfortunately, more than a little relevant to current events." —Kirkus, starred review

★ "[A]n important, highly readable addition to the library of Holocaust literature for young people." —Publisher's Weekly, starred review

★ "Sheinkin has penned another must-read with this powerful and harrowing account." —School Library Journal, starred review

★ "Sheinkin's meticulous research, memorable subjects, and haunting atmosphere contribute to an exceptional, soul-stirring narrative... nonfiction at its best." —Shelf Awareness, starred review

"National Book Award finalist, Newbery Honoree, and Sibert Medalist Sheinkin is a tried-and-true nonfiction expert whose books make big events, like WWII, accessible for younger readers. This latest, which draws on his own family history, is no exception." —Booklist, starred review

★ "In his latest masterful work of narrative nonfiction, Sheinkin's tale of suspense is tinged with the physical and psychological horror of the Holocaust." —Horn Book Magazine, starred review

"Sheinkin’s meticulous research makes this a riveting account, balancing the larger events of the geopolitical shifts throughout the war with the specific brutality of the camps." —BCCB

“Impossibly riveting, impossibly heartbreaking, impossibly inspiring. Impossible Escape should be required reading for every human being.” —Alan Gratz, New York Times–bestselling author of Allies

“This riveting account of individual survival amid politically motivated persecution works equally well as a thriller, as a history, and as a warning. Masterful.” —Eliot Schrefer, New York Times–bestselling author of Endangered

"This unforgettable, heartbreaking testimony to the heroism of ordinary people is astonishing in its story of youthful determination and survival—and the never-ending need to TELL THE WORLD.” —Elizabeth Wein, author of the Printz Honor book Code Name Verity

A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Best Book of 2023
Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book of 2023
Horn Book Fanfare Best Book of 2023
2024 Bank Street Best Book of the Year
2024-2025 Dogwood Final Reading List

About the Creators

Impossible Escape

Impossible Escape