Sammy Clay is living at home in New York, working for a novelty company, but dreaming of writing comic books, when his cousin, Joe Kavalier, arrives from Czechoslovakia one night in 1939. Joe is an artist who has never heard of comic books.
The very next day, the two become a team, creating a new character and selling the idea to Sammy’s boss.
Their back story: Joe has trained in Houdini escapism and magic and has escaped from the Nazi occupation of Prague by way of Russia. Sammy’s father was a strongman of vaudeville, but was rarely at home. Sammy is a little guy with gimpy legs.
Soon their comics are a success, but the satisfaction of painting Nazis getting clobbered no longer satisfies. Joe goes looking for Germans to beat up on.
He meets, and falls in love with a girl, Rosa Saks, who is able to help him get his little brother on a boat to freedom. He worries always about his family. Sammy wrestles with troubles, too, and has to part with a love of his own.
Tragedy strikes on Dec. 6, 1941. Joe leaves his cousin and his lover and enlists in the Navy. He has what has to be one of the most unusual wartime assignments I ever heard of. And he drops out of sight.
I absolutely fell in love with Joe while reading this book. And I would have loved to have Sammy over for dinner. He is full of ideas.
The characters are endearing, the story is suspenseful, sad, happy and heartwarming. I loved this book.