399 pages; published April 2011
As Nazi-led anti-Semitism grinds ever deeper into Berlin society in the late 1930s, Karl Stern’s family is slowly stripped of everything they hold dear. Although they are non-religious, they are targeted for bullying, loss of business, and eventually the loss of their home. Through his father’s friendship with German hero and boxer Max Schmeling, Karl finds himself training as boxer and gains new strength.
Coming from a non-practicing family, Karl Stern has never thought of himself as Jewish. But in Berlin in the late 1930s, he suddenly finds that a group of school bullies is all to aware of his Judiac heritage – and hates him for it. The beating he takes that day leads to a chance to train with the great German boxer Max Schmeling. Karl has never considered boxing before, but in the end, finds the strength he will need to face increasing Nazi oppression inside the walls of the Berlin Boxing Club.
This book is exciting and fast-moving. I got so involved that I read it in one day. Given it’s focus on the lead up to the Holocaust rather than the Holocaust itself, it is a slice of history that is less known and quite fascinating.
Sydney Taylor Book Award for Teen Readers (2012)