Bartoletti has taken one episode from her Newbery Honor Book, HITLER YOUTH, and fleshed it out into thought-provoking novel. Read more...
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Bartoletti has taken one episode from her Newbery Honor Book, HITLER YOUTH, and fleshed it out into thought-provoking novel. When 16-year-old Helmut Hubner listens to the BBC news on an illegal short-wave radio, he quickly discovers Germany is lying to the people. But when he tries to expose the truth with leaflets, he's tried for treason. Sentenced to death and waiting in a jail cell, Helmut's story emerges in a series of flashbacks that show his growth from a naive child caught up in the patriotism of the times, to a sensitive and mature young man who thinks for himself.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 70.
- Review Date: 2008-02-11
- Reviewer: Staff
Returning to material she uncovered while researching Hitler Youth, Bartoletti offers a fictionalized biography of Helmuth Hübener, a Hamburg teenager who, in February 1942, was arrested for writing and distributing leaflets that denounced Hitler. Almost nine months later, on October 27, at the age of 17, Hübener was executed for treason. Opening her story on Hübener's last day, Bartoletti frames the work as third-person flashbacks, casting over the narrative a terrible sense of doom even as she escalates the tension. She does an excellent job of conveying the political climate surrounding Hitler's ascent to power, seamlessly integrating a complex range of socioeconomic conditions into her absorbing drama of Helmuth and his fatherless family. The author also convincingly shows how Helmuth originally embraces Hitler. His disillusionment seems to come a little too easily; American readers may wonder why Helmuth's reactions were not more common. But that question resolves itself as the author exposes the chilling gap between her own admiration for her subject and reflections, discussed in an afterword, from those who knew Helmuth, as in this comment from his older brother: “He should have known better than that.... A sixteen-year-old boy cannot change the government.” Ages 11-up. (Feb.)