I often read the same books my kids are reading so that I may discuss the books with them and make sure that they understand everything in the book. We often discuss the scenarios and themes that are presented and try to apply those to our lives. I try to make it as much of a teachable moment as I can without taking away the joy of reading. I decided that since I have a lot of parents reading my blog, I would review these books in addition to the books I read for myself.
I read The Boy Who Dared: A Novel Based on the True Story of a Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. This is a young adult literature book that my 11 year old daughter recently read. The book starts with the boy at 17 in a prison and flashes back and forth to his childhood starting at age 9 when Adolf Hitler was becoming popular. The main character in the book, Helmuth, is the youngest of 3 brothers of a single mother. The author does a good job of placing the point of view through this young boy as he goes through the emotions of the rise of the Nazi party. At first he is happy because the Nazis are promising that people will not have to work as hard and he feels that his mother is working very hard for very little. As time progresses and his mother becomes engaged to a Nazi, his opinion starts to change. He witnesses the unfairness that is occurring with the Jewish in his community and he tries to understand it all. Eventually, Helmuth, develops a hatred for the Nazis and begins distributing anti-government fliers. He is eventually captured and sentenced to death. The flashes in prison are of him on death row, waiting to see if he will be released or executed.
Overall this is a very good book. The author does a great job of seeing the war and the Nazis through Helmuth's eyes. We feel for him as he gets caught up in the Hitler Youth and we feel like he is in over his head. There are generalities about brutalities in the book, but no details, which I think is good for the 9-13 age group. Once the kids are older than that they would still like the book but could probably handle more of the scary details that are missing from this book. The general feel from this book is that even though the Germans were run by the Nazis during World War II, not all Germans supported them. Sometimes, good people get caught up in bad situations. My daughter came away with a clearer understanding of World War II and the German people. The brutality of the Jews was understated however and I will expose her to more of that truth when she is more mature.
-I must admit, I am a little concerned at how this review will be tagged by the search engines and what kind of traffic I may receive with words like Hitler and Nazi in this post. I will keep my readers updated if I get any adverse comments, etc..., from that.
*Please note that I have included my Amazon affiliate link on this post and I will benefit from any purchased you make through this link.