My Brother's Shadow
Author: Monika Shroder
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Publication Date: September, 2011
Genre/Format: Historical Fiction/Novel
Goodreads Summary: As World War I draws to a close in 1918, German citizens are starving and suffering under a repressive regime. Sixteen-year-old Moritz is torn. His father died in the war and his older brother still risks his life in the trenches, but his mother does not support the patriotic cause and attends subversive socialist meetings. While his mother participates in the revolution to sweep away the monarchy, Moritz falls in love with a Jewish girl who also is a socialist. When Moritz’s brother returns home a bitter, maimed war veteran, ready to blame Germany’s defeat on everything but the old order, Moritz must choose between his allegiance to his dangerously radicalized brother and those who usher in the new democracy. (Taken from Goodreads on 12/28/11)
What I Think: Historical fiction fascinates me. I specifically love how you can be dropped in a place and time during history and you can learn about it through a character's story. Often times it is a time and a place that is not often talked about and My Brother's Shadow is no exception. In this story, we get to see WWI from the point of view of the "enemy". It shows that you cannot generalize an entire nation of people no matter how horrible the decisions of the government.
I also learned so much about the socialism movement in Germany at the end of WWI that I did not know about. The risks that Moritz's mother takes to stand up for her beliefs is something that is almost so hard to grasp- reminds me of the civil rights movement here in America. I also didn't know that it was partially because of this movement that the hatred for Jews spread throughout Germany.
And then behind all of this history, there was a wonderful story of Moritz and his journey. His journey to support his family. His journey to find love. His journey to find a career. His journey to find himself. Through these journeys, some tough questions were asked- What will you do to survive? Where does your loyalties lie?
Read Together: Grades 7 - 10
Read Alone: Grades 7 - 12
Read With: Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Resistance by Carla Jablonski, A Boy At War by Harry Mazer, Badd by Tim Tharp
Topics Covered: Family, War, Poetry, Journalism, Loyalty, Gangs, Sorrow, Survival, Hatred, Religion, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder