All his life, Daniel has been hiding. He just doesn't know it.
Until the spring of 1933, he's enjoyed a comfortable German boyhood with his well-to-do family, in school, at soccer. Daniel's even enjoyed jail -- for one exciting night -- with his best friend, Armin, after they've been caught painting a swastika on a wall in the hated Communist section of Hamburg. In their cell, the boys cut their wrists, mingle blood, and swear lasting brotherhood. Then, a thunderclap: Daniel learns to his horror that his mother is Jewish, that he is therefore half-Jewish and, in Aryan eyes, half-human. Daniel keeps the truth a secret. He and Armin still talk of joining the Hitler Youth. But Armin's father, an out-of-work longshoreman and a Socialist, forbids it. Armin joins anyway, with fateful consequences for Daniel's family. Throughout World War II, and until the story's haunting final scene, each friend holds the life of the other in his hands.