Jessica's Reviews > Daniel Half Human: And the Good Nazi

Daniel Half Human by David Chotjewitz
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's review
Nov 05, 2010

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bookshelves: materials-for-youth, age-15-18, historical-fiction, post-2000, novels, young-adult
Read in November, 2010

This book focused on the years 1933, when Hitler took power, to right before the war broke out in 1939. Daniel doesn't know that he is half Jewish, on his mother's side, until he is a teenager and wants to join the HJ. His best friend Armin stays friends with him until the climax of the story with Kristallnacht.
From a historical perspective, it's interesting to look at not only the experience of children at this time, but of someone who identifies himself as a German, not someone who is Jewish. The increasing persecution of Jews is mentioned, but I never really felt like I was able to connect with the characters and their experiences. It was made clear that the persecution of Jews didn't happen at once, that it didn't have the same effect on everybody all at once, but the words and actions of the characters could have better reflected the historical time period. I was surprised that with the abundance of radio programs featuring Hitler's speeches and speeches by his inner circle, nothing was quoted in this book from actual speeches given on the subject of the "Jewish problem."
I think the disconnect between the action and subject of the book and myself comes from the POV the author used--each Part was preceded by a short section narrated by David in 1945. Then the story jumps back in time first to 1933, then progresses with these interludes by David to 1939. When David is narrating, you get the best sense of what has happened to Germany and to him. The flashbacks are told in thrid person, and you never get close to what any one character is thinking and feeling. You know the basic rationale behind their words and actions, but nothing more in depth to make you identify or care about the characters.
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02/09/2016 marked as: materials-for-youth

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