The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow

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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.

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

So when Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national 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: protector of his family. And as Max's fame forces him to associate with Hitler and other Nazi elites, Karl begins 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?

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

Supports the Common Core State Standards.


About Robert Sharenow

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Robert Sharenow is an award-winning writer and television producer. His first novel, My Mother the Cheerleader, was chosen as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, and a VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers. He is also an Emmy Award-winning television producer and serves as senior vice president of nonfiction and alternative programming for A&E Network and Bio Channel. He lives in New York with his wife, their two daughters, and their dog, Lucy.
Published May 17, 2011 by HarperTeen. 421 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Sports & Outdoors, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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12 & up) Pub Date: May 17th, 2011 ...

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Publishers Weekly

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This story follows aspiring cartoonist Karl, a 14-year-old Jewish boy in 1930s Berlin who is on the receiving end of beatings from his Aryan classmates (Karl's cartoons and comics appear throughout).

Apr 25 2011 | Read Full Review of The Berlin Boxing Club

Historical Novel Society

He reinvents himself at the Berlin Boxing Club and also discovers that both Jews and blacks are champion boxers in America – a fact completely at odds with what the Nazis teach about the “mongrel races.” But Karl is living in an escalating inferno of violence against Jews, and he soon finds himse...

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Huntington News

The 1938 fight – a rematch of the bloody 1936 pummeling of Louis by Schmeling – was promoted by another Jew, Mike Jacobs, no relation to Joe Jacobs.

Jul 25 2011 | Read Full Review of The Berlin Boxing Club

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