Ten-year-old Maude Brewer lives a relatively care-free existence in 1915 Prospect Park, Pennsylvania, but her brother Henry and his best friend, Buzz Ryan, dream of more…of becoming professional baseball players. And their hard work pays off. They are drafted to play for the struggling Philadelphia Athletics. But the darkening conflict in Europe looms, threatening all of them with the fight of their lives.
At the same time, across the ocean, darkness has already fallen as the Germans march into neutral Belgium and violently impose their will. The life of nursing student, Marthe Peeters, is viciously altered when she is captured and forced to travel with the German Army after the soldiers kill her family and burn her home. The only thought sustaining her is that of revenge.
One hundred years later, in 2015, after her father Sam Ryan dies suddenly, Suzanne faces box after box of papers, mementos and pictures collected during his long life. She is stunned to see the date on one of the photo albums—1898—and can’t resist turning each brittle sheet to see her father’s parents and grandparents smiling at her from the pages. But when she finds her grandmother’s diary embedded in the binding, everything changes.
Suzanne scans the first fragile page, dated 1915, and confirms that the spidery writing, in ink faded to pale purple, reveals her grandmother, Maude’s, words from one hundred years earlier. In entry after entry, Maude’s story unfolds and intersects with Marthe’s on the other side of the world. Not only do these two young women share their perspectives on the war, Suzanne learns, but they also share the love of the same man, Buzz Ryan, Suzanne’s grandfather.
The diary ends abruptly and days pass before Suzanne finds the missing final pages. But when she does, she is totally unprepared for the devastating family secrets they reveal.