Imagine being in favor of your fatherland, Germany, and believing Hitler was such a good guy when you were 8-years-old. When you grow older you are required to join the Hitler Youth, but you complete your duties as best you can. On top of that, your mother begins to date and later marries a high-ranking Nazi officer. Then, you notice the poor ways the Jews are treated, the cruelty emanating from SS officers, the propaganda-filled fliers and soon the radios that only broadcast carefully worded German news. You were not raised to believe in this... and so you decide to do something about it.
I know, I know, the book has been out for awhile. But, sometimes its good to give refreshers of great books (at least I think it is). I enjoyed Susan Campbell Bartoletti's narrative of the life of main character, Helmuth, during the rise and rule of Hitler in Germany. History is much easier for me to learn if I get to read a narrative or the topic is brought to life in some other way for me. From this book, I gleaned information I hadn't known about Germans and Germany during this time period.
Bartoletti ran across Helmuth's story while gathering information for another book, Hitler Youth. The novel represents the experience of many in Germany who put effort into resisting the Nazis and Hitler. The compelling aspect of Helmuth is that he was so young, but demonstrated such courage and heart to make his voice and the truth heard at 17 years of age.
This book would be a perfect middle school read extending to high school. Additional resources located here.
Image from Scholastic.com