Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Berlin Boxing Club: By Robert Sharenow



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?


The Berlin Boxing Club is not only a stunningly well written book, it is also a brutal and engaging story that will leave readers in stunned silence while they fervently search for the next page that will never come.

The Berlin Boxing Club looks into the world of Jewish Germans during World War II, but instead of focusing on the world of religious Jews, The Berlin Boxing Club instead focuses on Jews who are instead Jews by heritage but not by religious affiliation. The story focuses on a number of important elements; from their family’s persecution, to a coming of age story revolving around the world of boxing, to understanding who someone is, not based on what they look like but instead based on the courage of their actions and the strength in their convictions.

Of course besides having a captivating and moving story, The Berlin Boxing Club also contains fantastic characters and action. All the characters, from The Countess, to Karl, to Max, are robust, realistic, and well written. Of course besides the good, Berlin Boxing Club, also demonstrates how the German people were swept up into the thick of it all. It does not paint them all as monsters, instead it paints some as hideous creatures who enjoy the suffering of others, some who choose to take advantage of those who are downtrodden, and most of all it shows the majority of people too scared to defy these groups, and so because of their own fears give in to the cruelty and discrimination that goes on.

All in all The Berlin Boxing Club is a fantastic book. It is gripping, realistic, full of both action and emotions, and is truly a superb story. This book should be read in classrooms along with other holocaust books such as the Diary of Anne Frank. And will find an audience among boys, girls, and adults; as the characters and story are developed enough to capture anyone who is willing to listen to its tale.

10 out of 10


Publisher: HarperTeen

Published: April 26, 2011

Price: $17.99

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