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Formats
Ebook Details
  • 10/2022
  • 979-8-9865985-0-5 B0B9BNBZHD
  • 275 pages
  • $5.99
Paperback Details
  • 10/2022
  • 979-8986598512 B0B9T63R5J
  • 256 pages
  • $15.99
B. V. Glants
Author
Half Notes from Berlin
B. V. Glants, author

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Berlin, 1933. Hans believes he and his family are safe from persecution.

Then, he discovers his family's dirty secret: his maternal grandparents were Jews who converted to Christianity.

Driven by the desire to understand who he is and whether his mother's blood really is tainted, Hans befriends Rebecca, the only Jewish girl he knows. Perhaps if Jewish blood isn't evil, his mother will be ok.

To be a Jew in Hitler's Germany is dangerous. But to fall in love with one is unthinkable.

Desperate to keep both his family's true heritage and his love for Rebecca a secret, Hans attempts to navigate this terrifying new world. He's disconsolate when his Jewish mother is kicked out from the Berlin Conservatory. He's disgusted by his Aryan father's aims to acquire Jewish business on the cheap.

Worst, he must watch helplessly as his classmates target Rebecca with increasing violence and malice.

But when his school announces it will expel Jewish students, Hans is determined to fight for Rebecca — and for the lives and souls of his family.

Reviews
Glants’s beautifully written historical debut explores themes of identity and resistance at the start of Hitler’s regime. Fifteen-year-old Hans attends school in Berlin and sings in the city’s prestigious Youth Choir. His placid world changes when his history teacher appears in class in a brown shirt, yells “Heil, Hitler!” and proceeds to coach the students in Nazi propaganda. Hans’s friends join the Hitler Youth and begin mercilessly taunting Rebecca, a defiant Jewish student to whom Hans is drawn. When Hans learns his mother’s family has kept its own heritage a secret, and that he is half-Jewish, he’s thrust between two worlds, facing great danger and terrible choices.

Hans narrates from old age in 2021, but the bulk of his story takes place over the course of a few weeks in 1933, as the novel’s taut timeframe underscores the speed with which radical nationalism took root in Germany. With his friends pressuring him to demonstrate his patriotism, Hans stalls, choosing a dangerous path—a secret relationship with Rebecca. After the mysterious disappearance of a school official, Hans gets swept up in a book burning and a Hitler Youth initiation ceremony and must decide whether to defy his peers or follow them, becoming “the one that does nothing” to resist.

The leads are skillfully and vividly drawn, especially Hans and Rebecca, whose dialogue brims with both tenderness and tension. As history encircles him, Hans’s inner struggle feels palpable, and the mob mentality he attempts to fend off rings true. By the end of the story, all citizens must fill out a “racial form” declaring whether they are Aryan—and while Hans’s mother’s career is jeopardized, his father turns a profit buying the business of a Jew fleeing the country. Present-day Hans inserts brief, chilling notes on what eventually happens to the characters, and their gripping stories will stick with readers long after the last page.

Takeaway: The gripping story of a german teen, at the start of the Nazi regime, discovering he’s half-Jewish.

Great for fans of: Ben Elton’s Two Brothers, Mark Sullivan’s Beneath a Scarlet Sky.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: B+

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 10/2022
  • 979-8-9865985-0-5 B0B9BNBZHD
  • 275 pages
  • $5.99
Paperback Details
  • 10/2022
  • 979-8986598512 B0B9T63R5J
  • 256 pages
  • $15.99

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