Max

Sarah Cohen-Scali, trans. from the French by Penny Hueston. Roaring Brook/Porter, $19.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-62672-071-8
French author Cohen-Scali’s U.S. debut chronicles the rise and fall of the Third Reich through the eyes of a child. Konrad von Kebnersol (dubbed Max by his birth mother) is a product of Lebensborn, a top-secret Nazi eugenics program designed to propagate the Aryan race. Baptized by Hitler and raised by the Nazi Party, Max serves as bait to aid in the kidnapping of Polish children, then enrolls at the Kalish school to facilitate the abductees’ Germanization. There, Max meets Lukas, an older boy to whom Max bears a striking resemblance. The two become like brothers, so it’s a shock to Max when Lukas confides that he’s Jewish. Unfortunately, Cohen-Scali’s plot relies too heavily on coincidence, and Max’s narration lacks nuance (even as a fetus, he narrates like a mustache-twirling villain); although Lukas’s relationship with Max forms the book’s emotional core, Cohen-Scali waits 200 pages to introduce him. The novel endeavors to teach an important lesson about the indoctrination and exploitation of German youth, but excessive exposition and an awkward structure muddy the message. Ages 15–up. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/19/2016
Release date: 07/19/2016
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 424 pages - 978-607-07-1892-2
Ebook - 978-1-62672-072-5
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