The son of the Irish ambassador to Germany poses as a member of the Hitler Youth in order to support the Allies during World War II.
Just like his parents, 13-year-old Michael O’Shaunessey, from the politically neutral country of Ireland, becomes a spy in Nazi Germany. When a downed British pilot alerts him to the existence of Projekt 1065—an effort by Nazi Germany to build a faster warplane that works without propellers—Michael discovers that his classmate Fritz’s father is designing the plane, which gives him remarkable access to the blueprints. Michael’s photographic memory comes in handy for remembering enemy codes and formulas. When, as a junior Gestapo, he joins the group assigned to assassinate a Jewish physicist who is working on developing an American atom bomb, he becomes embroiled in a complex drama of espionage and betrayal. Through Michael’s narration and an accessible story and characters, Gratz sheds light on the connection between Fascism and bullying, the moral dilemmas of war, and the lesser-known, common use of children for serious tasks by the Nazi regime. He doesn’t shy from challenging his readers, offering them a coming-of-age story that concludes that sometimes good people must be sacrificed or wrong things must be done in order to win a larger battle.
A rare insider’s glimpse into the Hitler Youth: animated, well-researched, and thought-provoking. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)