So, Grandma tells Elsa about a life long ago in Paris in 1942, when the French considered the war ended. She was soon to learn something quite different. Upon arrival at home one day, she finds her parents talking about becoming 'a family of sheriffs'. Daddy is happy; Mom not so. Mom sews the yellow stars on their clothes,, and Dounia goes off to school the following day proudly displaying her sheriff's star. She will soon learn that the star has branded her a Jew. She is teased and treated badly from that moment. The teacher is mean. Her friends refuse to speak to her. Dounia is confused:
"I didn't understand how being a Jew made me different from the other girls in my class. Also...why had Dad made up the story about sheriffs? There aren't any sheriffs in France."
Life becomes very difficult for the family. When the Nazis come for her parents, they quickly hide Dounia in a cupboard in the bedroom cabinet. They tell her to stay right there until someone comes for her. Once they are gone, her parents arrested, a neighbor comes to rescue her. The kind neighbors keep her as their daughter, until they hear that the police will return. Once again, she is led to safety; this time in the countryside. Dounia and her adoptive mother find security and happiness with Germaine, helping to do chores and meeting new people. They wonder constantly about those who are no long with them.
When the war is finally over, Dounia is reunited with her mother, who is almost unrecognizable to her loving daughter. Her father does not come home.