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DANIEL HALF HUMAN: AND THE GOOD NAZI by David Chotjewitz Kirkus Star


by David Chotjewitz & translated by Doris Orgel

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-689-85747-0
Publisher: Richard Jackson/Atheneum

A young American army officer drives through the ruins of Hamburg in 1945, remembering his childhood there, from his celebration with his best friend of the rise of the Nazi party until his flight with his family after Kristallnacht. Daniel is appalled to discover that his mother is Jewish and that, therefore, he cannot join the Hitler Youth with Armin, but nevertheless the two remain best friends until history and ambition drive them apart. Chotjewitz tells his story deliberately, flashing back and forth from Daniel’s post-war first-person narration to a measured third-person narration that moves from 1933 to 1939. Readers will feel Daniel’s self-loathing upon learning that he is half-Jewish, his mother’s growing hysteria as she realizes her blood damns them all, his lawyer father’s increasingly desperate faith in the German capacity for reason, and Armin’s conflict as he struggles to be both a good friend and a good Nazi. There are many Holocaust books for children, but this one stands out in its careful dissection of one family’s experience before the war, and in its nuanced approach to the complexity of emotions and relationships under stress. (glossary) (Fiction. 12+)