JERE’ M. FISHBACK
ISBN#: 978-1-60370-686-5/ 1-60370-686-0/ 978-1-60370-685-8/ 1-60370-685-2
Prizm Books/An Imprint of Torquere Press
GLBT YA Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 Cups
Joseph Jaeger is a young boy caught up in the beginnings of what will turn into WWII. He is shy, and relates better to girls and adults than other boys. He is being raised by his single mother.
Mrs. Jaeger is Joseph’s single mother. She is an actress and opera singer and has friends who are communist.
Ernst Roehm is Joseph’s uncle and a major player in the Nazi party.
Rudy is Ernst’s lover and becomes a friend to Joseph.
When Joseph’s mother dies suddenly, his entire universe comes crashing down. His mother is his best friend, and he does not know what he will do without her. It is not long after, an uncle he never knew existed arrives with his lover Rudy to take him to Munich. Joseph likes living with his uncle and Rudy, especially all the new clothes and the bicycle his uncle buys him. He even enjoys being part of a Nazi youth group. However, not long after he arrives, he is asked to try out for a part in a propaganda movie, and surprisingly it turns out he has inherited his mother’s acting ability and gets the part. He is pretty much on his own there, though Rudy does chaperone him occasionally, when Joseph meets and falls in love for the first time with another young boy. However, that boy and his family are Jewish, and with the unrest created by the Nazis, it becomes increasingly apparent that the Jews are beginning to be subtly persecuted. Joseph keeps the fact that his uncle is an important Nazi, and other secrets from his young beau because he is deathly afraid of losing the one he loves. As Germany begins the long march towards war, Joseph must make up his own mind about what he thinks and where he really belongs.
Joseph Jaeger has to be one of the best YA novels I have read in some time. The author paints a pre-WWII Germany so clearly that you can see Hitler’s insanity creeping across the pages as he drags the country towards another world war. Joseph’s observances about both the Nazis and the Jewish people he comes to care for are told with the candidness that only the very young seem to have. In spite of the fact that Joseph is raised in the shadow of the Nazi party, its tenets do not seem to touch him. I also especially liked how the author showed the Nazi party’s socialist beginnings, and how Hitler twisted those tenets to suit his own horrific purposes. The reader gets a bird’s-eye view into the charisma that was Hitler and how he was able to sway a nation. Finally, I really enjoyed reading about the relationship between Joseph and David, and how it developed. The tenderness between them is breathtaking. I think we need more books like this for young people, and I will certainly be looking for more from this author in the future.
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More