New starts and old secrets lie at the heart of this funny, heart-rending novel by acclaimed writer Lesley Krueger. Wounded and witty 15-year-old Jesse Barfoot sees the world as skewed. She's a modern Holden Caulfield who moves to Toronto after her mother - a part-time cab driver and perennial student - marries a genial young lawyer. Jesse is horrified at losing her mother to a happy marriage, and begins to haunt the garden of their new next-door neighbour, Martha van Telligen. Cranky Martha tries to drive Jesse away, guarding the secret she has kept since she was Jesse's age in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam during the Second World War. Yet as Jesse charms her way into the garden, Martha begins to open up. As the novel moves between wartime Amsterdam and modern Toronto, Martha's secret threatens to explode her peaceable kingdom, taking Jesse along with it. Hope and experience, innocence and injury, the curiosity of a 15-year-old girl and the mystery of an immigrant life: these come together in a searing novel about that crucial moment when we finally take responsibility for our own lives.