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The Wrong Boy

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,670 ratings  ·  261 reviews
The story of a Jewish girl sent to Auschwitz with her family. She falls in love with the wrong boy – the German son of the camp commander.

Hanna is a talented pianist, and the protected second daughter of middle class Hungarian Jews. Relatively late in World War II the Budapest Jews were rounded up and sent to Auschwitz. Hanna and her mother and sister are separated from he
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by Black Dog Books
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Neam 'Playing for the Commandant' suits the book so much more compared to 'The wrong boy'

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4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,670 ratings  ·  261 reviews

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'The wrong boy' is not a fitting title for this novel neither is the synopsis.

The story of a Jewish girl sent to Auschwitz with her family. She falls in love with the wrong boy – the German son of the camp commander.

Yes, it’s a star-crossed lover’s novel. This time it’s between a Jewish Hungarian girl and a German boy. It does seem a bit erroneous in a way as if the holocaust was a tragedy rather than atrocious. I picked this up on the hope it will be good, and in my view I thought it delive
C.G. Drews
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Holocaust books always make me want to cry. And yet I persist reading them. Why? Because they’re history! Because history shouldn’t be forgotten. Because terrible things have happened and shouldn’t ever happen again.

The author said this in her author’s note at the back: “I don’t pretend to know how it felt to be imprisoned in Birkenau. I don’t think anyone who wasn’t there can ever really understand. But it’s important to try. Reading history books and memoirs, talking about the Holocaust and w
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Hanna Mendel has a dream to follow in the footsteps of her musical muse, Clara Schumann, the celebrated German pianist. Hanna is only fifteen, and already her musical talents have seen her debut at the Debrecen Town Hall and play at the Goldmark Hall. By eighteen, Hanna hopes to shadow Clara and be playing to sell-out crowds in Vienna . . . then Hitler and the war came to Hungary, and everything changed.

Hanna and her family have been living in a ghetto; sectioned off with other Juden (Jews), and
May 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can I just start with saying this book deserves so many more stars than 5, Seriously. If you want to read a world war 2 story, I would highly recommend you this book. This book has a place in my heart and I want to reread this book already!

You follow the story of Hanna who plays the piano, I play the piano as well so that was already a good start for me. This book was full of emotions. Angry, sadness, happyness, revenge, hurt, scared, optimistic, pessimistic. Every emotion a person can feel is p
When I read a book about the Holocaust—or other terrible parts of history—my favorite part is almost always the middle, the messy, heartbreaking point when the plot is at its peak. At the heart of the story, the protagonist sees the most horrifying-yet-captivating details and is far from the tranquility of “before” and the relief of “after.” I do enjoy watching the exposition shatter as characters are captured and seeing them weave their lives back together in the conclusion, but I always strugg ...more
Story of a Book Reader
I wanted to like this book so badly, but I just couldn't. It was supposed to be a story about how a Jewish girl falls in love for the wrong boy, the German son of the camp commander.

Hanna, a fifteen years old Jewish girl who loves more than anything else to play the piano, is sent, along with her family, to Auschwitz.
When they first arrived there, they have been separated from their father and as her mom slowly goes insane, Hanna turns to her older sister Erika, for support. They need each oth
Eloise Robertson
Sep 24, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jessica Gillies
In my opinion this would be a fantastic way to introduce younger people to the topic of the holocaust. Sad but with happy, hope-filled moments as well. Not overly graphic while also addressing the horrors that went on.It doesn't romanticise them through avoidance.
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
In spring 1944, Hungary was occupied by German soldiers and in the city of Debrecen, a ghetto was formed at the end of April. Thinking her family was lucky because their apartment fell within the walls of the ghetto, Hanna Mendel continued to believe she would be able to attend Budapest Conservatorium of Music, where she had just been selected for a hard won place as a piano student.

But in the middle of a night in June 1944, a knock on the door by officers informed them that the Mendel family, p
Tirzah Eleora
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classical-music
I was browsing my local public library and spied a book with piano keys decorating its spine. (!!) I picked it up and read the description, and discovered that it's about a Jewish girl who plays the piano and falls in love with the son of a Nazi commander. While this may not sound like a show stopping premise to you, I was beyond thrilled. Partly because I adore YA books where the main character plays classical piano, which in my experience are pretty rare, but mostly because when I was in my ea ...more
Rhiannon Hart
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Lots of tears. A heart-wrenching book.
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Look after each other, and get home safe. And when you do, tell everyone what you saw and what they did to us." These were the last words that Hanna and Erika ever heard from their father before they got separated for life in Auschwitz. Hanna is a child prodigy at the piano, having already earned a scholarship to the Budapest Conservatory as a soloist before getting deported to Auschwitz. On the other hand, Erika, an outgoing young lady, is Hanna's older sister. This book taught me that going t ...more
Loren Johnson
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Young Adults and Adults
I've been so lucky in regard to historical fiction this year! This book was an absolute marvel filled with such deep emotion that I struggled to put it down! I just wanted to know what was coming next. The events of the Holocaust are so often written about and I know a great deal about them, but even I learned more from this book which left me in such tears, I struggled to see the words! I am so happy to have discovered a new favourite author in Suzy Zail, and look forward to reading more of her ...more
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Absolutely wonderful.
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Any writing about Auschwitz will always be harrowing, but meant that much more to me after visiting there last year. Vividly told from the perspective of Hanna, a 16yo gifted musical student, and targeted to a secondary school audience, she discovers that not all Germans believed in the Nazi cause.
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've always loved historical fiction, so much more if they're set during WWII. This is by far one of my favorites. Hearbreaking yet so beautiful at the same time.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Truly shocking, sad and so beautifully written. I’m speechless. I adore that the book also deals with life-after-war topic and Hanna’s character development is amazing.
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
This book is good but the storyline was predictable.
The fact that the main character is a classically trained pianist was the only reason I really loved this book other than the fact that the author was able to describe concentration camp life so well.
Maybe the reason this book isn't one I would recommend is because the romance didn't seem appropriate at a time where the protagonist should be worried about survival rather than falling in love with the commandants son as ridiculous as that sounds
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Wrong Boy had been on my to read list for such a long time, over 3 years, so it was great to finally read it.

I loved this story about Hanna, her family, her music and of course her brief flicker of a romance with the commandants son.

the writing felt very simple, but it worked and was beautiful and heartbreaking.
Polly Roth
1.5 Stars
The relationship this book is based on is not developed AT ALL. The two have maybe 3 written out conversations and everything else is glazed over. Consequently, I did not care whatsoever about what happened to Karl. It seems like a good 100 pages from the middle were missing.
Neroli Dobson
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book had such good reviews and I was hoping it would be a good junior fiction option for my middle school class, but my long-standing struggle with historical fiction came to the fore. Unless historical fiction is written skillfully it often feels like the author has a checklist of historical details - in this case the horrors of WWII Nazi concentration camps - that they need to tick off. Zail has also written a non-fiction novel about her father's experiences in the Holocaust and I probabl ...more
May 29, 2016 rated it liked it
The Wrong Boy by Suzy Zail follows a young Hungarian-Jew Hanna Mendel and her family's life during the Holocaust. Hanna and her family are forced out of the ghetto where they live and are immediately transported to the concentration camp. There, we meet several other characters including that of Karl Jager, the son of a SS commander.
Hanna is offered an audition to become the Commander's pianist and successfully does end up getting granted the position. However, what she doesn't know is that Kar
Rhondda Powling
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war
Suzy Zail is an Australian-born author and daughter of a Holocaust survivor. She writes this her first fictional story in the first person. Hanna Mendel, is a 15-year-old girl living with her older sister Erika and her parents in the Debrecen Jewish ghetto in Hungary. She is a good student and talented pianist who has always behaved appropriately. Her world changes when the Nazis arrive to announce that the ghetto is closing and the family will be “resettled”. After a long train journey in a cat ...more
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult-book
If the writer is good enough, an old story is successfully retold as Zail does here. After "The Boy in Striped Pyjamas" I wondered whether another story about a possibly good son of the Nazi commandant at Auschwicz could work but Zael quickly engaged me and kept me that way. It seemed to me that knowing the awful truths about the inhumanity of the Holocaust gave strength to the story. Zail bravely includes a 'capo' or block leader in the characters, otherwise the situation is the familiar one of ...more
5 STARS!!!!!

I was thrilled when I found this book on goodreads. I'm into WW2 and all Hitler did, and this was a perfect book for it. A Jewish falling in love with the commandment's son? Forbidden love at the extreme. The history written in this book is on point. The pain is heartfelt and palpable. Great research the author did. BUT THE ENDING.......... I wanna know what happens to Hanna and Karl!!!!!!
I thought this book was pretty good, it grabbed me right away. The main character Hanna was an enjoyable person and I could really feel for her. The story is compelling and it really hits you hard, but it seemed really rushed especially the ending which is why I am only giving it a 3 out of 5 stars.
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This story is amazing.

I won't say much, as not to spoil it, but I will have to say one thing, I know why it's called the wrong boy.

If you've read the book, you would know Karl is 'the wrong boy', but he can be in two different views; he could be the boy she fell in love with, or the boy the Soviets took.

Apr 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't want to put this book down! Since it takes place in a concentration camp, I had to keep reminding myself that it was fiction and not a true story. The book is for young adults and I think the author does a great job of telling what really happened in the camps without getting too detailed.
Alicia Papp
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
A haunting story, beautifully told. A terrible insight into the suffering of the Jews during the Second World War, narrated in a clear voice by Hanna. Full of inhumanity, sadness and suffering, but also with hope. A good addition to the genre - I will be recommending it to my students.
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Suzy Zail was born in 1966 in Melbourne, and has worked as a solicitor specialising in litigation. After the birth of her first child, Suzy left the law to concentrate on writing. Suzy has written for magazines, and is the author of award-winning children’s books. Her children’s fiction has been published in Australia, Canada, and the United States.

Suzy, an internationally published author, freela
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