Monday, February 6, 2012

Review: My Brother's Shadow - Monika Schroder

My Brother's Shadow by Monika Schroder
Genre: YA, historical fiction
Published on September 27, 2011
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 224
Read From: 1.26.12 - 1.29.12

Berlin, 1918 
World War I is drawing to a close, and Germany is torn. No one knows this better than sixteen-year-old Moritz, whose family is as divided as the nation. His father died in the war and his brother still risks his life in the trenches. His mother, intent on sweeping away the monarchy, attends subversive socialist meetings. 

Moritz doesn't know what he thinks about the war, but he knows that his family is barely surviving on its rations and meager salaries. After Moritz takes a job as a journalist for the Berliner Daily, he finds himself covering the injustices his mother protests against. And when he meets and falls in love with a Jewish girl who is also a passionate socialist, he begins to understand the movement toward a new democracy. 
Then his brother returns from the trenches - bitter, maimed, and ready to blame Germany's defeat on everything but the old order. Moritz's estranged brother soon joins the violent counterrevolution, casting a shadow over his family. Nothing is the way it used to be. Can the family stay together or will history tear them apart?


A fascinating WWI "family drama" story that gives an interesting look into the day-to-day life and struggles of the German citizens during WWI. I didn't have huge hopes for this book when I first started it, thinking that it would be nothing but a preach about how wonderful socialists are. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Author actually offered a pretty balanced view on the politics surrounding WWI, pointing out that every political faction had a bunch of smaller wings to them, and each smaller wing had their own view on things. The Author also does a brilliant job in illustrating the horrors of the war without getting graphic, and the difficulties that undoubtedly accompanied families who had relations returning from the war. Life couldn't have been easy for the soldiers afterward; many of them no longer understood why they were fighting, sought to blame someone - anyone - for the war, and it must have been even harder for them when Germany surrendered. Monika Schroder captures all of this, as well as the loyalty some of the soldiers still clung to.

My Brother's Shadow is a very good, quick look at the turmoil WWI wrought on Germany's economy and their national pride, and the Author's Note gives a brief, yet quite informative "intro" to the different political movements at the time. Fascinating read, and not at all boring.

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