Wednesday, April 24, 2013


First Read: October, 2011. I don't remember where I was when I read it or why I liked it so much bit I do remember liking the story a lot. It made me rethink my stance on boxing (that it looks ouchy) and reminded me of the movie CINDERELLA MAN which I liked very much. But as they years went on, I began to wonder, "Did I really love it so much? Would anyone want to read historical fiction, no matter how sporty?" See the Re-Read section to find out! I do remember researching Max Schmeling after I read this. Even though this story is fiction, Schmeling was a real person - a champion boxer and a German national hero.

The Story: Karl is 14 when things start to get really bad with the Nazis. At first, he doesn't feel too much pressure. Sure, he's Jewish, but he is blond and Aryan looking so no one really knows it. But now he has been marked by a gang of bullies who beat him up in the stairwell at school. (If you are unfamiliar with the history of Germany, I assure you things get even worse.) It just so happens that the night he is all bruised and wretched looking, there is an art show at his father's gallery where Karl meets Max Schmeling, who offers to teach Karl how to box in exchange for a painting in the gallery.

Re-Read: I reread this at my sister's house in California over April vacation. I would get up extra early to read because I was so into the book. Short answer, I DID love it! It is really well written and the characters are strong. I had forgotten about the art subplot - Karl's parents run a gallery and he wants to be a cartoonist. I had forgotten about his little sister and what a great character she was. And I had forgotten about The Countess. Wow, good book.

Summer Reading Tips:
  • This is kind of a rainy day book. It is a heavy topic, but with an interesting hook. (Get it, hook? Like the punch?)
  • This book will make you want to box. Please find someone in your own weight class and make sure you are both wearing protective gear. You can tell your sparring partner all about the book as you pound them to bits.
  • For a project you could look up read information about Schmeling and compare it to the fictional Schmeling of the book.

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