Rating: Significant Shortcomings
Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Sarah Cohen-Scali
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Max is a child born into Hitler’s supremacist Lebensborn Program. Proudly narrating his own story, Max begins the telling with his conception between his young volunteer mother at her insemination from an SS officer. Max is a perfect Nazi, hailing the Fuhrer, hating Jews, finding strength from infancy to fulfill his mission for Hitler. Growing up as a model youth under the regime, he helps kidnap other children, is trained in the academic and fighting programs, and is witness to gross scenes of prostitution, murder, and assault toward those he loves as well as those he hates. Contextualizing all of his experience as a soldier in service to his Fuhrer, Max considers the tragedies he endures to be mere maneuvers in his operation.
A bizarre narration from the viewpoint of a Nazi fetus is a telling prelude to this gruesome tale. While the book offers an enlightening sneak peek on an often overlooked aspect of Hitler’s regime, the inevitably dark story becomes unnecessarily ludicrous by the narrative voice of a growing child with a fully developed vocabulary and political position. Beginning in the womb, Max uses fowl expletives and spares no detail in describing sex, politics, and gore. The child is unfazed in his love for the Fuhrer even when he witnesses tragedies to those he is close to, including the murder of his own childhood friend. Overall, the story’s strangeness is a distraction from an otherwise engaging perspective.
*Contains severe language, severe sexual content, severe violence.