This is the compelling memoir of the physical and emotional travails of a foster child tossed from one family to the next, from farm life in pre-war France to the Parisian salons of the occupation.
Soon after her birth in 1929 in Burgundy, Yvette Thomas is placed in foster care. Her first years are spent in a loving family in a small town, but at the age of 9 she is deemed old enough to work and is sent to work in a farm. Abused and treated like a slave by her new parents, the only solace she finds is among the cows she herds. At the age of 12, weighing only 50 pounds, she is placed on another farm, where she‘s able to heal physically and emotionally. There, a couple of Parisian intellectuals, the famous art collectors Yvonne and Christian Zervos, discover her. Impressed by both the girl and her drawings, they offer to adopt her. At the age of 13, she leaves an almost medieval rural France to join a world populated by the leading names in the Paris art scene—Picasso, Eluard, Braque, Brancusi, Calder, Miró. During the occupation she is tutored by Picasso and befriended by Eluard and his wife, Nush. However, living with the Zervoses has a darker side—she is sexually abused by her adopted father and witnesses bribery and debauchery among the crème de la crème of the art world.
At the end of World War II, she becomes aware of the fate of Jews in the camps and empathizes so deeply that she declares herself a Jew. In 1950, she moves to Israel, where she receives certificate of conversion number 6 and marries Sacha Szczupak, a friend of David Ben-Gurion.