Thursday, September 01, 2011

My Brother's Shadow

Schröder, Monika. My Brother's Shadow.
Published on 27 September. ARC received from Ms. Schröder.

For Moritz, the war First World War has gone on too long. His father was killed, his younger sister died of the Spanish flu, and his brother is currently off fighting. While he like his job as a printer at the newspaper, he is not happy that his mother has to work in a factory instead of staying at home doing sewing. He's even less pleased to find that she has become increasingly active in the socialist party and is against the Kaiser. Moritz is involved briefly with a gang of thugs with whom his brother Hans "found" food supplies but feels uncomfortable stealing things. When his mother is sought by the police and his brother comes home from the war gravely injured and angry, Moritz is torn between supporting the beliefs of his family and being true to his own. This is made even more difficult when he meets a Jewish girl, Rebecca, and falls in love with her.

Strengths: The detail of everyday life in this period is wonderfully researched, from the description of the food to the activities of young men like Hans. The story is a complex one, and the point of view of a German is something all too rare in young adult literature. The historical notes at the end are very helpful and made me want to know what Moritz and Rebecca's experience would be during World War II, when they would possibly have been parents of children who would have been considered Jewish.
Weaknesses: This is an excellent book, and I already have three boys interested in it, but because of the current bee in my bonnet about books for boys, this seemed slightly lacking in action. I am hoping that given the quality of the story, the boys won't notice!

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