It is 1941 in western Germany. World War II has been raging for almost two years, and Hitler’s propaganda machine is in full force.
The German people are being forced into submission through a combination of fear, indoctrination, and lies. Hitler wants a generation of young soldiers willing to do anything for their Führer. Twelve-year-old Karl Friedman is a true believer. His 16-year-old brother, Stefan, is not. Karl is a member of the Deutsches Jungvolk, but Stefan is a member of the Edelweiss Pirates, insurrectionists determined to spread the truth about Hitler and the war. When Karl witnesses firsthand the brutality of the Nazis, he begins to suspect his loyalty has been misplaced. Based on true events, Karl and Stefan’s story exposes what life was like for regular German citizens during the war. The quiet themes of patriotism, courage, and compassion are presented through believable characters, gripping suspense, and an unflinching look at the lengths some will go to in order to retain control. Rather than a pedantic lesson on right and wrong, Karl’s journey is an awakening of one boy’s understanding of the world around him.
A heartfelt look at coming of age in a time of war. (Historical fiction. 9-12)