Angela Cerrito was born in Dearborn, Michigan, and has lived in Oregon, Georgia, China, Italy and Germany. She attended Pacific University, where she received a BS in social work and an MS in physical therapy. She currently works as a pediatric physical therapist in Germany. Her first novel, The End of the Line, was a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers and a VOYA "Top of the Top Shelf" selection. The Safest Lie evolved over eleven years. The author first learned about Irena Sendler in 2004 and knew immediately that she wanted to write about her. She applied for and was awarded the Kimberly Colen Memorial Grant from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, which made it possible for her to conduct research in Warsaw, Poland, where she finally met her hero, Irena Sendler.
Basing her story on the admirable work of Irena Sendler, the Polish social worker who provided underground opportunities for 2,500 Jewish children, Cerrito effectively evokes the fears, struggles, and sheer terror these children faced through her protagonist's first-person account, which allows readers into her private thoughts. Anna's three years in hiding encompass much of what these saved children experienced, though many were not always treated with kindness. In a candid concluding portrayal of the psychological cruelty these children faced, Anna learns of her real family's death when she is taken from her foster home to a Jewish agency. Though alive, she is emotionally lost, and readers are left to ponder what the future might hold for this brave girl. Balancing honesty and age-appropriateness, Cerrito crafts an authentic, moving portrait. --Kirkus Reviews
Anna's present-tense narrative voice is vivid, and readers will connect with her from the start. From the moment she recommends her friends for scarce vaccinations to her inquiries about a baby she helped rescue years ago, she demonstrates her loyalty. . . . A suspenseful and informative choice for historical fiction fans. --School Library Journal Cerrito succeeds particularly in distilling the WWII experience from a child's point of view: the horrors are slightly muted because they are all Anna's ever known. . . . Readers yearning for Anna's postwar reunion with her family will be faced with the same harsh reality as Anna: precious little of her family survives. Back matter provides further context for the real story of Sendler, whose bravery in the face of danger is inspiring. --Booklist Told from Anna's perspective, this harrowing tale of secrets and survival has a childlike cadence, with poignantly simple observations amid life-altering decisions. . . . Cerrito (The End of the Line) delivers a compassionate introduction to the atrocities of the Holocaust that pays homage to some of the real heroes, particularly social worker Irena Sendler, who risked their lives to save the young. --Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books