Berlin Boxing Club

Berlin Boxing Club

4.18 (5,297 ratings by Goodreads)
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Sydney Taylor Award-winning novel Berlin Boxing Club is loosely inspired by the true story of boxer Max Schmeling's experiences following Kristallnacht. Publishers Weekly called it a masterful historical novel in a starred review.

Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew; after all, he's never even been in a synagogue. But the bullies at his school in Nazi-era Berlin don't care that Karl's family doesn't practice religion. Demoralized by their attacks against a heritage he doesn't accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth.

Then Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German hero, makes a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons. A skilled cartoonist, Karl has never had an interest in boxing, but now it seems like the perfect chance to reinvent himself.

But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: family protector. And as Max's fame forces him to associate with Nazi elites, Karl begins to wonder where his hero's sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his boxing dreams with his obligation to keep his family out of harm's way?

Includes an author's note and sources page detailing the factual inspirations behind the novel.
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Product details

  • 12-17
  • Hardback | 416 pages
  • 146 x 211 x 34mm | 482g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0061579688
  • 9780061579684
  • 1,221,784

Back cover copy

Fourteen-year-old Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew. But to the bullies at his school in Naziera Berlin, it doesn't matter that Karl has never set foot in a synagogue or that his family doesn't practice religion. Demoralized by relentless attacks on a heritage he doesn't accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth to everyone around him.

So when Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero, makes a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons, Karl sees it as the perfect chance to reinvent himself. A skilled cartoonist, Karl has never had an interest in boxing, but as Max becomes the mentor Karl never had, Karl soon finds both his boxing skills and his art flourishing.

But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: protector of his family. Karl longs to ask his new mentor for help, but with Max's fame growing, he is forced to associate with Hitler and other Nazi elites, leaving Karl to wonder where his hero's sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his dream of boxing greatness with his obligation to keep his family out of harm's way?
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Review quote

★ "Sharenow delivers a masterful historical novel." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

★ "A story with well-drawn, complex characters, gripping history, and intense emotion." -- School Library Journal (starred review)

★ "A fine one-two punch with the author's previous powerful work, My Mother the Cheerleader." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Readers will be drawn [in] by the sports detail and by the close-up narrative of the daily oppression." -- ALA Booklist

"A meaty, readable account of the perils and pitfalls of daily life in Nazi Germany." -- The Horn Book

"This beautifully written coming-of-age story puts a human face on both the victims and the tormentors during the holocaust while revealing on a national level the political importance and implications of the historic match between black boxer Joe Louis and German hero Max Schmeling." -- Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)

"I held my breath as Karl Stern, fierce and thoughtful, fought his way through the Nazi Wolf Pack and his own insecurities to save his family and become a boxer and an artist." -- Robert Lipsyte, author of THE CONTENDER and CENTER FIELD

"Set in Berlin just after Kristallnacht, this isn't just a story about the terrible events in Nazi Germany, it's also a story about identity, family, and growing up" (in the article "11 Children's and YA Books to Help Remember the Holocaust'). -- Brightly
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Rating details

5,297 ratings
4.18 out of 5 stars
5 41% (2,154)
4 42% (2,220)
3 14% (719)
2 3% (152)
1 1% (52)

Our customer reviews

was not expecting to check this book out at the library; I saw it, read the description really quickly, made a split-second decision, and took it. It was just one of those book you check out on a whim and hope it�??�?�¢�¢?�¬�¢?�¢s give. I was a bit skeptical at first because it didn�??�?�¢�¢?�¬�¢?�¢t seem to be the type of book that I normally read, but once I started reading it, I couldn�??�?�¢�¢?�¬�¢?�¢t stop. World War II-era books that are based in Germany can easily become repetitive and dreary, but luckily The Berlin Boxing Club did not fall into this rut. I loved that Sharenow didn�??�?�¢�¢?�¬�¢?�¢t sugarcoat any of the events; he had many graphic descriptions of the atrocities that occurred to Jews during that time. Because of the emphasis on boxing, I was really able to develop a deeper respect for boxing. Lately I�??�?�¢�¢?�¬�¢?�¢ve found that I am a small boxing fan; I don�??�?�¢�¢?�¬�¢?�¢t watch it much or know a lot about it, but I find it much more interesting and entertaining than any other televised sports (i.e. football, basketball, soccer). I really liked that I was able to learn about the basics of boxing alongside Karl. As he learned the different punches and jabs, I learned the different punches and jabs. The character development was a bit confusing to me, however. For instance, Karl was extremely dynamic in many ways, but at the same time there were certain instances where he seemed to hold onto traits that he had in the beginning of the novel. Now, I won�??�?�¢�¢?�¬�¢?�¢t go into detail because I hate spoilers, but there is one instance at the end of the novel where Karl can either choose to help someone or choose to run away like a coward, and the decision that he ends up making is one that I feel he would have made in the beginning of the book before he changed. I felt the beginning-middle half of the book went at a normal, casual pace that was easy to follow. The last half of the book was just as well-written and easy to follow, but I felt that the pacing was a bit too fast. Too much seemed to happen in too short of an amount of time. It was as if the major events happened in the last one hundred pages of the book. Overall, this is, quite, simply, a really good book. It�??�?�¢�¢?�¬�¢?�¢s brutal, cruel, and harsh, but that was the reality of Nazi-era more
by Jordan
This is a fantastic book based in Nazi era Germany. Karl Stern, is Jewish by birth but not by religion. His family does not practice nor do they have anything to do with being Jewish. Karl has never really had a problem with any kids because he doesn't really have the look of a Jew. He soon finds out that it doesn't matter if you practice the religion, or if you look the part. To those in Nazi Germany, a Jew is a Jew. Karl is cornered by some kids he deems as "The Wolf Pack" and they confront him about being a Jew, this is his first experience with hatred towards Jews and it will only get worse. Karl's father is a art dealer, and a very stubborn and prideful man. Even though most artist are leaving Germany do to Hitler taking away the freedom to express oneself in any form but the way of Nazis, Karl's father still hold to his art gallery. After Karl is beat up, his father makes a deal with Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero. Max wanted a painted that Sig (Karl's father) has so they make a deal that Max will give Karl boxing lesson and Max can have the painting. Karl is thrilled, and soon starts a training regimen that Max gives him. As things start heating up in Germany, Karl soon realizes how bad it really is for the Jewish population. Although his father refuses to see it, it will eventual catch up to Karl and his family. This is a story told through the eyes of a teenager as he sees his world crumbling before him as Hitlers propaganda grows. I can honestly say when I was asked to review this book that I wasn't really sure whether to say yes or no, this is really not my type of book. I am not a big fan of any stories set around WWII, as its not my favorite war. My step-grandfather was part Jew and so I get a little aggravated when reading or watching anything to do with WWII, but this was a very well told story. The author took actual characters and events and then wove a fictitious story around them, and he did it with creative style. Max Schemling was a real German boxer from the Nazi era and I found it very interesting how the author puts him into the story. From the very first page I knew this story was going to upset me as well as entertain me. This is the first time in a long time, that I have read a book that grabbed me from the first page and held my attention to the last page. Karl Stern is a well developed character and you really can feel his conflicting emotions through out the story. I really wanted to punch the punching bag with him when he was frustrated. From the things that happen within his own life (girlfriend, friends, school, boxing), to what was happening with his family as a whole. This story is very fast paced and gripping and I think even if its not your style of book that it is a powerful enough book to get anybodies attention. I would recommend this book to more
by Stormi Johnson
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