Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Alan Gratz
Michael O'Shaunessey lives in Berlin, Germany with his parents in 1943. His father is the Irish ambassador in the city, and Michael and his mother are undercover spies for the Allied powers. At first, Michael enjoys sneaking around, memorizing locations for the Allies to bomb and keeping secrets from his German schoolmates. Then things start to escalate, and Michael begins to see that war and espionage are not games. For one thing, Michael's only friend, Fritz, seems to have completely bought into Hitler's fanatic vision for Germany to become the largest world power. And for another, Michael is required to do more and more dangerous things in order to keep his cover. Although in the end Michael is victorious, he is forced to grow up very quickly as he questions whether there is any right or wrong in a world war.
This book is a great historical fiction that shows a side many children don't learn as much about - the side of the Nazis. While this book doesn't justify at all what happened there, it allows for more insight into how and why Germany so fully allowed Hitler to take over the minds of their children. The book starts off a little choppy because the chapters are very short, but the cliffhanger endings give a sense of heightened excitement and danger. Michael's internal moral struggle is one that many young people can identify with - realizing that the world is not quite so black and white as they once thought it was. All of the novel's locations and events (for the most part) are historically accurate, which makes for an enjoyable and believable novel. This is a great read for young readers who enjoy learning about spies and World War II, and who also enjoy thrillers and adventure stories.
*Contains moderate violence.