Monday, September 19, 2011

A Must Read for 2011

The Berlin Boxing Club

The Berlin Boxing Club is a powerful new YA book written by Robert Sharenow. The book is a solid YA read that will draw readers into a historical fiction story set in World War II. This is only Sharenow’s second novel and he drew his inspiration from some real-life stories about World War II.

Karl Stern is a teenager living in Berlin in the 1930’s. He wasn’t raised in the Jewish faith, but that doesn’t stop his classmates and others in his community from identifying him as a Jew. He is bullied as is his family. Karl turns toward 2 secret loves: boxing and cartooning. In the 1930’s boxing was a worldwide phenomenon. Karl is introduced into the boxing world by a very famous German boxer, none other than Max Schmelling. Schmelling teaches Karl about boxing and gives the young teen advice when he is in town, which isn’t often. Schmelling, however, remains somewhat neutral to the political turmoil that is turning Karl’s life upside down. Throughout the book we are also shown illustrations of Karl’s work and see comic strips created by the character.

I hope this book gets noticed by other YA readers, librarians, bloggers, and teens. It’s on my list of must-reads for 2011. I have read other books that have similar themes, but none that were from such a strong perspective of a teen living through the devastating changes that Hitler and his Nazi party brought to Berlin. If you know a teen or even an adult that is interested in WWII history or fiction, this book is a great read. I really appreciated the amount of historical scenes we are given as we read the book as well. All of this plus the dramatic world of boxing are brought together in a well written book. The descriptions of the boxing are well done and easy to follow when the action gets intense. The book is amazingly true to life in the portrayal of a teen dealing with something so unreal, so unfathomable, so devastating, that it tears the character (and reader) apart. I would have to say, for me, this was a difficult read because of the subject matter. At times I had to put the book down and walk away because my emotions were riding a little too high. I will just recommend that if any part of this review interested you; you won't be disappointed by the read.

Grades 8 and up.

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