Review- Berlin Wolf by Mark Florida-James

Berlin Wolf - Mark Florida-James

Synopsis:  (from Amazon)

 The bond between a man and his dog is unique. For Peter, a boy of 15, it is so strong that he risks his own life to save that of his dog, Wolfi. It is 1942. Peter is Jewish, and with his parents he is escaping the Nazis. A decision to jump into the icy waters of the River Spree to rescue Wolfi ultimately saves his own life as well, for they have been betrayed and his parents are taken. Left to fend for himself, Peter hides out in the woods, foraging and hunting. Life is tough, but he and Wolfi are together. One day, a visitor stumbles into their den. Franz, also 15, has escaped from a labour camp. The three become close friends and have many adventures together. When they can no longer cope in the wild, they turn to a family friend, Aunt Berta. The wife of a wealthy industrialist, she takes them in. But their peace is short-lived; Kurt, Aunt Berta's adopted son and a fanatical Nazi, betrays them. With the help of new friends, the two boys not only save themselves from capture but are able to rescue others in hiding. Berlin Wolf is a story of friendship overcoming all the odds in a time of hatred for 9-15 year old children. Meticulously researched and written by a former academic with personal experience of Berlin, who has studied original documents from the period, the storylines in the book are based on different survivor accounts.

I thoroughly enjoyed this YA historical fiction romp through war-torn Berlin (complete with dangerous excursions to Switzerland).  Young Peter Stern was escaping the Nazis in the early days of the war, when his family on the run were sold out.  Peter and his dog, Wolfi, escaped and while his parents were sent to a concentration camp, Peter hid in the woods outside of Berlin.  During his time in hiding, he met up with a young man named Franz, an escapee from a camp and the tale follows Peter, Franz, Wolfi, and several other characters and their escapades in assisting other 'u-boats'- Jews hiding in Berlin, through the end of the war.

There were a few problems I encountered in the book.  It was marvelously researched, but there were times when I felt I was reading a history text rather than a YA historical fiction novel- while I enjoyed it, I am not sure that younger readers would.  There was also some repetitive phrasing, but it didn't detract too much from my enjoyment and would possibly not be noticed by younger readers.  The ending however, was a bit of a let down... not in the conclusion of Peter and Wolfi's experience, that was touching and I enjoyed, it was just too quick.  I felt let down.  Great build up and then *bam*, in two pages, it was done and no glimpse of what happened to Peter and Wolfi after. Perhaps this was done to leave way for a sequel.

I received a copy of Berlin Wolf through NetGalley.  I am not being payed for a review.


I give Berlin Wolf by Mark Florida-James: