Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review: The Boy Who Dared, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

The Boy Who Dared is based on a true story about an 18-year-old boy who was executed for conspiracy to commit high treason in Germany during WWII.

The book contains scenes of Helmuth in his prison cell during his last day and then flashes back to his childhood, the period of time at the beginning of Hitler’s reign and through Germany’s entry into war. Helmuth begins as a child wrapped up in the excitement of the entire country when Hitler promised prosperity for all the German people. They were ready to believe because the unemployment rate was very high and the economy very weak.

Bartoletti does a great job of describing the slow disillusionment of Helmuth and his family and friends, as they enter into war (after Hitler had promised peace) and then are subjected to more and more restrictions on their freedom.

Helmuth and his family are devout Mormons, which brings an interesting aspect to the story, and his faith contributed to Helmuth’s feeling that he had to try to do something to stop the oppression.

It is a difficult story to read, and we know the ending, but it’s a very interesting study and gave me a new perspective on the origins and very slow progression of Germany’s rise and fall. Helmuth was a special person – everyone saw what was going on, but most people chose to be quiet, wait it out, and hope it ended soon, while Helmuth decided to do something about it.

This is a book for everyone, but I would particularly recommend it for middle school students because of what I perceived as a lower reading level. There’s much to be discussed here – this would be a great classroom read.

Published by Scholastic, 2008
Copy obtained from the library
174 pages

Rating: 3/5

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  1. Such a sad book to read! It's like in The Diary of Anne Frank, I already knew what happened to her in the end - that made the book so much more difficult to read.

  2. This was an interesting book but it wasn't unputdownable. I really wanted it to be fantastically written and to fully immerse me in the story. I agree completely with your 3/5 assessment! Thanks for the review.
    Happy reading,
    Mary @ Book Swarm

  3. I read this one a while ago and kind of wish that there had been a bit more depth to the story. I thought it was well written and well researched but a little... sparse. Very good review!


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