A pampered child used to having her own way, Anneke Van Raalte lives outside Amsterdam, where her father is a cartoonist for the Amsterdam newspaper. Though Anneke's family is Jewish, her religion means little to her. Anneke's life changes in 1942 when the Nazis invade Holland, and she and her family are deported to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Not only are conditions in the camp appalling, but the camp is the site of an elaborate hoax: the Nazis are determined to convince the world that Theresienstadt is an idyllic place and that European Jews are thriving under the Nazi regime. Because he is an artist, Anneke's father is compelled to help in the propaganda campaign, and Anneke finds herself torn between her loyalty to her family and her sense of what is right.
What World is Left was inspired by the experiences of the author's mother, who was imprisoned in Theresienstadt during World War II. She and her family survived the camp largely on account of her father, Jo Spier, a well-known Dutch cartoonist who was forced by the Nazis to contribute to their hoax by producing propaganda drawings. As part of Monique's research for this book, she traveled to her mother's childhood home in Broek in Waterland, Holland; visited the Jewish Lyceum she attended in Amsterdam (where Anne Frank was a fellow student); and traveled to Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic.