Friday, December 9, 2011

The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow

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Title: The Berlin Boxing Club
Author: Robert Sharenow
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: LOVE!
Alerts/Warnings: This deals with Nazi Germany so there are some moments of racism. There are also some mentions of male genitalial in connection to circumcision and trying to hide his heritage. There is nothing graphic.

Premise: Fourteen-year-old Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew. But to the bullies at his school in Naziera Berlin, it doesn't matter that Karl has never set foot in a synagogue or that his family doesn't practice religion. Demoralized by relentless attacks on a heritage he doesn't accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth to everyone around him.

So when Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero, makes a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons, Karl sees it as the perfect chance to reinvent himself. A skilled cartoonist, Karl has never had an interest in boxing, but as Max becomes the mentor Karl never had, Karl soon finds both his boxing skills and his art flourishing.

But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: protector of his family. Karl longs to ask his new mentor for help, but with Max's fame growing, he is forced to associate with Hitler and other Nazi elites, leaving Karl to wonder where his hero's sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his dream of boxing greatness with his obligation to keep his family out of harm's way?

Opinions: Wow! Can I tell you this is one of the best books I have ever read about Nazi Germany. Don't get me wrong, there are some powerful and touching books out there, but this one just spoke to me.

Robert Sharenow is an amazing author with a great talent for writing and storytelling that draws you in so that the story consumes you in that delicious way that you don't want to do anything but read and discover what happens. I cared so much about Karl and his family that I couldn't stop thinking about them even when I wasn't reading the book. Then when I was reading another book (review coming soon) that took place around the same time, I kept thinking about what Karl and his family would have been doing.

While the topic is sad and depressing, I loved how Robert Sharenow slowly depicted the denegration of the lives of the Jewish people in Germany. I felt that through the course of the book I was falling with Sterns. I was so drawn in that I felt like I was part of the Stern family and the Berlin Boxing Club.

This is an amazing book that everyone should read. It is a profound book that is written by an amazing storyteller who is also an impressive writer.

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