Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Brother's Shadow - Monika Schröder

Publisher:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages:  240
Genre:  Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Middle Grade
Source:  I received a copy from the author

From Goodreads:
As World War I draws to a close in 1918, German citizens are starving and suffering under a repressive regime. Sixteen-year-old Moritz is torn. His father died in the war and his older brother still risks his life in the trenches, but his mother does not support the patriotic cause and attends subversive socialist meetings. While his mother participates in the revolution to sweep away the monarchy, Moritz falls in love with a Jewish girl who also is a socialist. When Moritz’s brother returns home a bitter, maimed war veteran, ready to blame Germany’s defeat on everything but the old order, Moritz must choose between his allegiance to his dangerously radicalized brother and those who usher in the new democracy.

My Review:
I am not sure what it is about German history that I love but I enjoy reading books about it.   My father was stationed there after the wall went up.  He used to talk about the beauty of the country and the Black Forest.  I have been real interested in anything to do with Berlin as well.  This is the first book I have read that occurred before Hitler.  I learned a lot.  If you want to read something about German History then you need to pick up books by this author.  She is able to take history and craft a story based on historical events that will stay with you a long time.

I could not imagine what Hans' life must have been like.  He was raised to believe in his Kaiser.  His father fought for the Kaiser and lost his life.  His brother was such a staunch supporter that he would listen to no one.  Hans works for a printer.  His country is changing.  The Kaiser had made a statement that the boys would be home from the war before the leaves changed color and then four years had gone by.  Poor people were starving while the wealthy could buy what they wanted.  Gangs constantly  stole from the rich.  Women had to work in ammunition factories.  The general public decided they'd had enough.  Women wanted the right to vote and so socialist parties popped up everywhere.  Hans' mother and sister have joined.  Not only has his mother joined she is considered a leader in these illegal  activities.  The police are after her.  Hans has always sided with the Kaiser.  As he sees the injustice of a wealthy man eating a sandwich in front of a starving child he begins to agree with his mother.  He doesn't really make his decision until he goes to visit his brother who has returned from the war an injured and bitter soldier.  He now blames all of the countries problems on the Socialists and the Jews.  Of course you knew there had to be a twist here.  Hans has fallen in love with a young girl who is a supporter of the Socialist party and she is a Jew on top of all of that.  
The author's notes explain how the events of this time set things up for the rise of Hitler.  There is so much suspense here.  This is a perfect book for kids in middle school and up to learn about this time period.  It is an excellent book to have discussions about consequences of our decisions and how those decisions can have life altering consequences.
I would recommend you check out Monika's other books.  This will make the third one I've added to my shelves at school.  I have several of her others on my wish list.  This is a must read book.

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