This is the Award Winner. The Dorothy Canfield Fisher award is a Vermont state award that the books are picked by adults (though I am not always sure why they were the pickers as one was a professor at my college who had no English or child background that I knew of) and then voted on by the kids. Of course, the year I did this award the “cool kids” pick won. But that is the perfect lead in to this book.
It is 1943. Germany is winning the war. Mostly. Or at least that is what they say. Actions do speak louder than words. Michael O’Shaunessey is a typical Irish kid, except his father is the Irish ambassador, his mother is a spy for the British Secret Service and Michael is a member of the Hitler Youth. But he is not part of the violence, book burning, bullying, or torture that the other boys inflict. He is helping his parents. When his “friend” shows him secret plans the Nazis are working on, Michael learns that sometimes there are secrets worth dying for.
Projekt 1065: A Novel of World War II by Alan Gratz is a rare treat. The writing is modern allowing the contemporary reader access without a lot of “dry” history, yet all the facts are there. The comparisons I made of the kids following the “cool kids” and voted for that favorite book as they did not want to be “singled out” is superficial. Yet, the teasing one could have endured was nothing to the current events comparisons: following the crowd so we are not killed or worse is not that far off. To be one to stand up for what is right (as Michael wants to do since one fateful night) could get you get you tortured, killed, or worse: set off to a concentration camp.
Very mature images/scenes and subject matter, it is still good for ages 10 and up. This book shows you how the Hitler Youth (both the boys and girls) as well as the adults could so easily get swept up into this nightmare.