Julia awakens the next day with intense abdominal pain. Putting it out of her mind, she takes Zoë into town to meet William. When William arrives at the café, Julia is speechless, touched by the fact that William has his mother’s eyes. The conversation soon turns to William’s mother and Julia explains that she would like to discuss “the tragic events of July ’42” with him. William is baffled, asking what Julia means. As she continues to explain, Julia begins to realize that William does not know about his mother’s past. She decides to leave while there is still “time to take off before [she] shatter[s] the peace in this man’s life to pieces.” William amiably maintains that Julia’s “got the wrong Sarah.” Before William and Julia can part ways, Zoë snatches a photo of Sarah from Julia’s bag and hands it to William, asking, “Is this your mother?” William utters the word “Jesus” and sinks back into his chair.
Julia is shocked to realize that William had no idea that his mother was a Holocaust survivor. The fact that she never considered this as a possibility shocks her, and testifies to her almost single-minded passion for learning about Sarah’s fate. Here, again, Zoë plays an important role. Like her mother, she is brave enough not to shy away from daunting social situations. In fact, Zoë is more confident than Julia in this situation, but her decision to show William the photo has an element of brashness in it. The novel shows once more that conversations like this one are necessary, but that they by no means leave the participants unscathed.