Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book Review: The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow

Title: The Berlin Boxing Club
Author: Robert Sharenow
Pages: 416
Expected publication: April 26, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Summary taken from goodreads:
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?

My Review:

The Berlin Boxing Club is a great coming-of-age story depicting the life of a young Jewish boy living in Nazi Germany. 

Right from the first page, I was instantly hooked. The writing style was easy and engaging, and Robert Sharenow's depiction of the troubles a Jewish family went through during the Nazi-era Germany was hauntingly accurate. While The Berlin Boxing Club tells a sad tale, the morals of the story shines throughout the book.

Karl is a totally relatable protagonist. In the beginning, as Hitler's anti-Semitism is starting to gain power, Karl's just a young teen; he's weak. But, when he starts learning how to box from the famous Max Schmeling, you're able to see Karl grow both physically and mentally. He still has his flaws, but finally able to find the courage to own up to his mistakes and take action when there's no one else to turn to.

Also, since Karl is a cartoonist, the book has pictures and comics that he drew throughout the book, which I thought was really cool.

The rest of his family have their own problems and flaws that makes them realistic. As their lives start getting tougher, their family relationship becomes strained, but just as times hit their hardest, they manage to find their love for each other through it all, something that is rare to find in books lately. 

With it's 400+ pages, The Berlin Boxing Club transports you to a time where being who you are is a crime, and you have to find the strength to go on and get back up to survive.

No comments:

Post a Comment