In 1939, Julian Padowicz says, "I was a Polish Jew-hater. Under different circumstances my story might have been one of denouncing Jews to the Gestapo, or worse. As it happened, I was a Jew myself, and I was seven years old." Julian's mother was a spoiled beauty, a Warsaw socialite who had no talent for child-rearing and no interest in it. She turned her son over completely to his governess, a good Catholic, whom he called Kiki, and whom he loved with all his heart. Julian and his mother were strangers to each other and Kiki was deeply worried about Julian's immortal soul. She explained to him that God didn't love Jews because of the horrible things they had done to His Son, and the only way that Julian could join her in Heaven was for him to become a Catholic and that she had the authority to baptize him if he was in danger of death. When bombs began to fall on Warsaw, Julian's world crumbled. His beloved Kiki returned to her family in Lodz; Julian's stepfather joined the Polish army and the grief-stricken boy was left with the mother whom he hardly knew, but whom he despised. Resourceful and determined, his mother did whatever was necessary to provide for her son: brazenly cutting into food lines, and later, finding themselves under Soviet occupation, befriending Russian officers to get extra rations of food and fuel. But brought up by Kiki to distrust all things Jewish, Julian considered his mother's behavior un-Christian and had difficulty justifying his own survival under those conditions. There is both humor and pathos as Julian wrestles with his religious identity in the midst of a hideous war. In the winter of 1940, as conditions worsened. Julian and his mother made a dramaticescape to Hungary on foot through the Carpathian mountains and Julian came to believe that even Jews could go to Heaven. "I have written Mother and Me with love and humor," Julian says. It has been described as part Ann Frank, part The Great Escape and part Marx Brothers.