The Boy Who Dared: A Novel Based on the True Story of a Hitler Youth

The Boy Who Daredby Susan Campbell Bartoletti

We meet young Helmuth on October 27, 1942 on his 264th day in a Nazi prison.  It’s a Tuesday and the executioner works on Tuesday.  Will this be Helmuth’s Tuesday?

What has Helmuth done to land himself here, waiting in the cold, dank cell for death.  Helmuth thinks back to how he got here, back to Germany right after World War I, back to when Hitler was first voted into power with words of hope and wealth and security for the German people, back to the times when he began to question the words fed to him in school, at home, in the news, back to the point when he made his life-threatening decision.  Helmuth is the boy who dared to question and dared to do something to try to right what he felt was so wrong.

Reaction: This is a powerful book and what makes it so powerful is the reality behind the story, the shocking and thoroughly researched history, and the author’s wonderful ability to weave this story.  I really felt Bartoletti’s attachment to the story and I learned so much from this book.  My limited history classes in no way truly prepared me for what Germany was like during the 1930s and 40s.  I loved the author’s note, where she explained what happened to many of the characters, talked about her interviews with people she characterized in her book, and shared photos of the real Helmuth, his family, his friends, and the room where he was murdered.  I am very interested in reading Bartoletti’s nonfiction book Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hilter’s Shadow, the work that first introduced her to Helmuth’s story.  This is a definite go ahead for my booktalks.  I am really excited to share this one with the students.

The Boy Who Dared is nominated for a Cybils.  I have been avoiding reviewing Cybils books until after the finalists have been announced but I just had to talk about how great this book is at depicting the German side of WWII.


About Casey

I am a librarian who loves all things reading, especially teen literature.
This entry was posted in Reviews, Reviews - Teen and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Boy Who Dared: A Novel Based on the True Story of a Hitler Youth

  1. Kate says:

    Pretty good book. I finished it last week!

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