A young American man asks his grandfather to tell his story of what it was like to live in Leningrad during WWII. What follows is the intriguing tale of how his grandfather met both his grandmother and his best friend during a grueling winter week. The grandfather (Lev) was a seventeen year old who had just been imprisoned for looting a dead German soldier when he meet Kolya, a handsome young soldier who has been brought in for desertion. Instead of being shot, the two are recruited by a high-ranking Colonel for an impossible assignment; they must obtain a dozen eggs to use in his daughter's wedding cake within five days. This seems, today, to be a most laughable request, but during WWII in Leningrad, people were starving to death and would eat the dirt under a bombed out sugar factory if they thought it would keep them alive. In a war-starved city where the cats and dogs have disappeared long ago, let alone chickens and eggs, the two embark on a dangerous quest when they set out to the countryside to find the eggs.
Upon their journey, Lev and Kolya encounter a group of Russian women who have been kept as concubines for the German soldiers. Their tale of atrocities against one of the young girls lead Lev and Kolya on another, far more important mission: to kill the sadistic leader of the "Einsatzgruppe" -- a German killing squad. They team up with a small band of Russian resistance fighters to help in their quest, but encounter hazards at nearly every step, and their missions become nearly impossible as they simply struggle to stay alive.
Recommended by Katie O'Connor