December 06, 2006

The Tragic End of War

This book is a 2006 Cybil Award Nominee for YA Fiction.

Anna is different, like her father was. She doesn't think with the herd, but has her own thoughts, hopes, and dreams. This is why she reacts as she does, when she finds the lone man in the snow, in the village where she lives, which edges the border between Germany and Czechslovakia. He's fevered and obviously afraid. Instead of turning him in to be shot, like her Hitler's Youth brother, Felix, or twisting her hands and worrying like her mother and grandmother might have, she does her best to care for him, taking him to an abandoned bunker and feeding and caring for him.

This could cost Anna her life, she knows, and find her branded as a Traitor and killed, but why should people like Felix be right? Why should anyone be treated as less than human, hunted, and killed? Just because they are different, like her father was? No matter what so many other Germans think, Anna believes that what her country is doing is wrong. Her brother Felix has so taken in what he has learned at Hitler's Youth that when it is apparent that Germany has lost, he is lost, too, and feels he must keep on fighting. It is his inability to let go and move on which results in the horribly tragic conclusion of this novel.

An important historical novel translated from the German which reminds us that not everyone in Germany thought with one mind, even during history's most terrible times, and that even now, there is danger but honor in thinking for oneself.

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