The Berlin Boxing Club

by Robert Sharenow

Karl is a non-practicing Jew growing up during the beginnings of the Nazi takeover of Germany. He has the fortune of blond hair and gentile looks unlike  his father and sister which gives him freedom to travel around the city mostly undisturbed. The story is set between the escalation of violence against Jews and Karl’s training to be a boxer from the most famous boxer in Germany.

Karl grows up as the story is told. The beginning finds him to be decidedly self centered, not wanting to accept gifts from his sister because they are too childish or not defending himself from school bullies who are Nazis in training. I liked that as the book progressed and Karl grew stronger he also grew to be more responsible and caring. He starts to take care of the people around him and embrace his heritage.

I thought it was interesting in the beginning of the story when Karl describes being angry at the Jewish people. He was buying into the German propaganda and since his family was non-practicing had no experience to battle those stereotypes. He meets some unique characters along the way that in the beginning he is repulsed by and grows to appreciate their heart and bravery and is able to literally embrace them fully.

Overall the book started a little slow for me, but when conditions in Germany grew more dangerous the book was hard to put down. Worthwhile read, but not up to the standard of The Book Thief.

 

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