What we don't know about our friends may one day explode in our faces, but what we do know can be a different sort of time bomb. Two men, who meet and become good friends after enjoying successful adult lives in California, have experienced childhood so tragically opposed that the friends must decide whether to talk about them or not. In 1944, 13-year-old Fritz was almost old enough to join the Hitler Youth in his German village of Kleinheubach. That same year in Tab, Hungary, 12-year-old Bernie was loaded up onto a train with the rest of the village's Jewish inhabitants and taken to Auschwitz, where his whole family was murdered. How to bridge the deadly gulf that separated them in their youth, to remove the power of the past to separate them even now, as it separates many others, becomes the focus of their friendship, and together they begin the project of remembering.
The separate stories of their youth are told in one voice, at Bernat Rosner's request. He is able to retrace his journey into hell, slowly, over many sessions, describing for his friend the "other life" he has resolutely put away until then. Frederic Tubach, who must confront his own years in Nazy Germany as the story unfolds, becomes the narrator of their double memoir. Their decision to open their friendship to the past brings a special poignancy to stories that are all too horrifyingly familiar. Adding a further and fascinating dimension is the counterpoint of their similar village childhoods before the Holocaust and their very different paths to personal rebirth and creative adulthood in America after the war.