More and more, as the years pass, I find myself gravitating to young adult fiction.
It just isn't the stories of boys and girls "coming of age". It's that I find an amazing range of literature, from the now-popular dystopias, to historical fiction.
I usually don't do "book reports" in my blog but when a book really moves me, I have to write about it.
Right now I am reading a historical fiction piece called "The Berlin Boxing Club" by Robert Sharenow. Once I finish this book, I am going to hunt down other books by this author.
"The Berlin Boxing Club" works on so many levels. The amount of research the author did is obvious.
On one level, this is the coming-of-age story of a teenaged Jewish boy growing up in 1930's Berlin. Hitler has consolidated his power, and every day comes new horrors and new challenges for the Jews of Nazi Germany. As a student of history, I know what is going to happen, and can hardly restrain myself from jumping to the end of the book and seeing if the boy and his family survive.
The teenager finds himself thriving in the world of amateur boxing (although he wisely hides his Jewish identity) he entered after a bullying incident. Again, the author has done his homework. All the details of the boxing world ring (no pun intended) with authenticity. A historical figure, Max Schmeling, moves in and out of the book as one of the characters.
On still another level - the boy is a talented cartoonist, and the book features his illustrations and cartoons. He keeps detailed notes on the boxers he fights against, and draws their moves. He also draws cartoons to keep the spirits of his younger sister high. But his father, an art dealer, does not approve of this "low" form of art.
On a final level, the book deals with prejudice within the world of hated minorities, as the Jewish boy must work through the hatred of homosexuals he has picked up through the attitudes of society around him. To his disgust, he finds that one of his father's best customers is a homosexual - and must face the possibility that his father is one, too. Or is he?
I have confidence that however this book ends, I am going to enjoy every minute of the experience.