In 1935, 10-year-old Alex Maki from Bainbridge Island, Washington, is disgusted when he’s forced to become pen pals with Charlie Lévy of Paris, France - a girl. He thought she was a boy. In spite of Alex’s reluctance, their letters continue to fly across the Atlantic - and along with them, the shared hopes and dreams of friendship. Until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the growing Nazi persecution of Jews force them to confront the darkest aspects of human nature.
For freshman Xing Xu, life at Slackenkill High School is a daily exercise in futility. As one of only two Asian students at the otherwise all-white school, he exists on the fringes of adolescent society, counting the days until he’s free. Only his best friend, fellow Chinese immigrant Naomi Lee, can comprehend Xing’s loneliness and frustration. When a series of mysterious abductions rattles his adopted home town, Xing’s position on the outskirts of the community puts him at an advantage. Local police are baffled by the crimes, but Xing, so easily ignored by those around him, sees and hears the things others do not.