Synopses & Reviews
Sydney Taylor Award-winning novel Berlin Boxing Club
is loosely inspired by the true story of boxer Max Schmeling's experiences following Kristallnacht.
Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew. But the bullies at his school in Nazi-era Berlin, don't care that Karl has never been in a synagogue or that his family doesn't practice religion. Demoralized by attacks on a heritage he doesn't accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth.
So when Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero, makes a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons, A skilled cartoonist, Karl has never had an interest in boxing, but now it seems like the perfect chance to reinvent himself.
But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: protector of his family. And as Max's fame forces him to associate with Hitler and other Nazi elites, Karl begins to wonder where his hero's sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his dream of boxing greatness with his obligation to keep his family out of harm's way?
Includes an author's note and sources page detailing the factual inspirations behind the novel.
Supports the Common Core State Standards.
"As he did in My Mother the Cheerleader (2007), Sharenow delivers a masterful historical novel that examines racism through the eyes of both children and real historical figures. This story follows aspiring cartoonist Karl, a 14-year-old Jewish boy in 1930s Berlin who is on the receiving end of beatings from his Aryan classmates (Karl's cartoons and comics appear throughout). His father's friend, boxing champion Max Schmeling, agrees to train Karl as a boxer so that he can defend himself and his younger sister, Hildy. As the Nazi regime gains power and influence, it becomes clear that Germany will eventually not be safe for Karl and his family. Over the course of a few years, Karl craves the freedom of moving to America, falls in love with his Catholic neighbor, Greta, and meets a cross-dressing homosexual called the Countess, forcing Karl to confront his own prejudices. The assorted plot threads and immersion in the worlds of art and boxing make the novel a bit crowded, but Sharenow's deft touch with his characters and his portrayal of turbulent prewar Berlin more than compensate. Ages 12 up. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“A fine one-two punch with the authors previous powerful work, My Mother the Cheerleader.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A story with well-drawn, complex characters, gripping history, and intense emotion.” School Library Journal (starred review)
Praise for MY MOTHER THE CHEERLEADER:“Readers will be held fast by the history told from the inside.” Booklist (starred review)
Praise for MY MOTHER THE CHEERLEADER:“Powerfully written.” School Library Journal (starred review)
Praise for MY MOTHER THE CHEERLEADER:“Teens should remain riveted right through the devastating conclusion to Sharenows promising work of historical fiction.” Publishers Weekly
“Sharenow delivers a masterful historical novel.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Readers will be drawn [in] by the sports detail and by the close-up narrative ofthe daily oppression.” ALA Booklist
“A meaty, readable account of the perils and pitfalls of daily life in Nazi Germany.” The Horn Book
“This beautifully written coming-of-age story puts a human face on both the victims and the tormentors during the holocaust while revealing on a national level the political importance and implications of the historic match between black boxer Joe Louis and German hero Max Schmeling.” Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“I held my breath as Karl Stern, fierce and thoughtful, fought his way through the Nazi Wolf Pack and his own insecurities to save his family and become a boxer and an artist.” Robert Lipsyte, author of THE CONTENDER and CENTER FIELD
Fourteen-year-old Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew. But to the bullies at his school in Naziera Berlin, it doesn't matter that Karl has never set foot in a synagogue or that his family doesn't practice religion. Demoralized by relentless attacks on a heritage he doesn't accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth to everyone around him.
So when Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero, makes a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons, Karl sees it as the perfect chance to reinvent himself. A skilled cartoonist, Karl has never had an interest in boxing, but as Max becomes the mentor Karl never had, Karl soon finds both his boxing skills and his art flourishing.
But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: protector of his family. Karl longs to ask his new mentor for help, but with Max's fame growing, he is forced to associate with Hitler and other Nazi elites, leaving Karl to wonder where his hero's sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his dream of boxing greatness with his obligation to keep his family out of harm's way?
About the Author
Robert Sharenow's first novel, My Mother the Cheerleader, was chosen as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, and a VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers. He is also an Emmy Award-winning television producer and serves as executive vice president of programming for Lifetime and the Lifetime Movie Network. He lives in New York with his wife, their two daughters, and their dog, Lucy.