Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Book Review: Brothers in Arms

Brothers in Arms by Jack Lewis Baillot

Rating: PG-13 (violence)

Recommended for: Ages 15 and up

 Franz Kappel and Japhet Buchanan never expected their friendship to be tested by the Third Reich. Friends from early childhood, the boys form an inseparable, brotherly bond. Growing up in a little German village, they escape most of the struggles of war until the day Japhet is banished from school for being a Jew, and later has a rib broken when other village boys beat him up. Franz learns he is putting himself in danger for spending so much time with Japhet but continues to stand up for his Jewish friend even at the risk to himself. Then one day their lives are shattered when they see first-hand that the price of being a Jew is dangerously high. 

 With the war now on their doorsteps, Franz and Japhet come up with a desperate plan to save their families and get them out of Germany alive. Leaving behind the lives they've always known, they move into Berlin with nothing to protect them but forged papers and each other. Convinced their friendship can keep them going, the boys try and make a new life for themselves while trying to keep their true identities and Japhet's heritage a secret. Taking his best friend's safety upon himself, Franz joins the Nazis in an attempt to get valuable information. At the same time, Japhet joins the Jewish Resistance, neither friend telling the other of their new occupations.

  With everyone in their world telling them a Nazi and a Jew can't be friends, it is only a matter of time before they believe all the lies themselves, until neither is certain if they are fighting against a race of people or fighting for their homeland. Somehow they have to survive the horrors of World War II, even when all of Germany seems to be against them.

This is a great but sad book about friendship in Germany during WWII. This book was one I actually felt like reading and wanted to read over doing other activities, which doesn't happen very often. 

Writing: 4/5

The writing was easy to stay focused on and it was easy to follow the story. She also clearly presented the gospel in a natural way in the story. There were a lot of typos and some wrong tenses. I also wished that some of the changes of point of views were more defined. There was a lot of back story that was the foundation to the story. The ending was satisfying, but I wish that it had a little more before it ended and went to the Afterword. I was also able to get attached to the characters.

Plot: 5/5

The story is about two boys' friendship during WWII and them trying to survive the war. It is a very character focused story, which is something that I really like. It is a very sad book and many people die. While it doesn't have a lot of detail of what happened in the Holocaust, there is some violence mostly when characters are interrogated.

Setting: 4/5

I haven't done a lot of research on Germany during this period, but there are some more minor things that didn't seem quite historically accurate but that don't really affect the story (except the one that was addressed in the historical note at the back of the book). For example, when the children start becoming indoctrinated there is no mention of Hitler Youth for awhile and no mention of the Kappels not attending Hitler Youth and what repercussions might occur from them not going. The setting seemed real and the way a character was pushed to do things was done in a realistic way. The feel of the story definitely fit with the story. It did seem well researched and not every thing will be completely accurate.

Characters: 5/5

This is a character book (with a good story too) and these characters go through a lot. They make mistakes and sometimes act rashly. They have their good and their bad, which make them more human, and are still likeable. The things the characters go through impact and change them. They changed slowly and not all at once. Things also aren't always clear to them, like in real life, and they then make mistakes which don't just magically go away, and they have to deal with the consequences of their mistakes. 

This is a book that is well worth reading. It is sad but still good. I really enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to people who like character stories.

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