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As World War I draws to a close in 1918, German citizens are starving and suffering under a repressive regime. Sixteen-year-old Moritz is torn. His father died in the war and his older brother still risks his life in the trenches, but his mother does not support the patriotic cause and attends subversive socialist meetings. While his mother participates in the revolution to sweep away the monarchy, Moritz falls in love with a Jewish girl who also is a socialist. When Moritz’s brother returns home a bitter, maimed war veteran, ready to blame Germany’s defeat on everything but the old order, Moritz must choose between his allegiance to his dangerously radicalized brother and those who usher in the new democracy. 

Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, ISBN: 978-0-374-35122-9, ages 12 and up.


Award Nomination

  • 2014 New York State Reading Association Charlotte Award Nominee


“In this nuanced and realistic work of historical fiction, Schröder (Saraswati’s Way) immerses readers in her setting with meticulous details and dynamic characters that contribute to a palpable sense of tension. Moritz’s intimate narration captures the conflicts, divided loyalties, and everyday horrors of the period.” -Publishers Weekly

“The sorrow and the pity of World War I haunt every page of this unsparing coming-of-age story set in Berlin during the war’s final days. Monika Schröder skillfully sketches in the fractured political background of a disintegrating Imperial Germany without missing a beat in her fast-paced, first-person narrative as 16-year-old Moritz copes with his family’s misfortunes, finds his calling, and discovers love. I found the innocence of the meetings between Moritz and his girlfriend Rebecca particularly affecting, and because she happens to be Jewish, the story ends on a note of foreboding. This is a memorable and instructive novel.” -Russell Freedman, author of The War to end all Wars: World War I

“War gives meaning to some men’s lives. For other men, the experience of war extinguishes all meaning in life,” says a man who becomes Moritz’s mentor; Schröder makes this sad and ever-timely lesson all too clear.” -KIRKUS REVIEWS

“Readers will be caught up by the teen’s personal experience in terrible times—tired of his mother’s ranting, tempted to join the local gang in violent looting, in love with a Jewish girl, and heartbroken about his brother. A good choice for sharing across the curriculum, this is a novel readers will want to discuss.” -Booklist

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Learn more about my other books,  The Dog in the Wood and Saraswati's Way.