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Caging Skies

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  112 ratings  ·  39 reviews
An avid member of the Hitler Youth in 1940s Vienna, Johannes Betzler discovers his parents are hiding a Jewish girl named Elsa behind a false wall in their home. His initial horror turns to interest—then love and obsession. After his parents disappear, Johannes is the only one aware of Elsa’s existence in the house and the only one responsible for her survival.
By turns di
Paperback, 443 pages
Published April 4th 2008 by Vintage RHNZ (first published November 1st 2004)
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3.50  · 
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 ·  112 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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CAGING SKIES is a very thought provoking novel which takes place in Austria during and after World War II. Johannes is a boy who is a Hitler Youth who is entranced by Hitler when he discovers his parents are hiding a Jewish girl named Elsa. Anger at his family turns into interest in Elsa, then an obsession/love for Elsa which is not returned. This book was a page-turner for me, and I highly recommend it to others!
There are books that you read and the moment you finish reading it, you know without a doubt that the book is destined to be a classic. This is exactly how I felt after reading "Caging Skies" by Christine Leunens.
The story reads slow and steady but don't get me wrong, it is a very strong and powerful slow burn. You will feel all of it.
The protagonists, Johannes and Elsa, are thrown together unexpectedly into a dependent type relationship. Johannes and Elsa's "relationship" is an enigma to the
Al Ornaz
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found reading Caging Skies a fantastic literary journey. Interestingly paradoxical in that it is slow paced while a lot is happening, Leunens' style manages to quickly get hold of my attention and drag me chapter after chapter deeper in some sort of insanity, a confusion of roles where the duel between the main protagonists, Johannes and Elsa let me wondering who is playing who.
The WWII backdrop is present enough to provide an environment of angst and oppression yet remains all the same subtl
Aug 18, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
---- Disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ----

It started off okay, then it got pretty good. At a mid-way point however, after the parents are no longer involved in a larger part of the story, it really started to suck. From there it quickly got worse. The closer it neared the end the more I started doing things like skipping paragraphs, or jumping to find the next bit of dialogue & skipping other text. Then I'd skip a page or 2 before starting in again. If I hadn't pro

Kim Lockhart
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Thank you to Abrams books and Overlook Press for an advanced reader's copy, in exchange for an honest review.

My take is that this is almost two books. The first two-thirds of the book are filled with intriguing, page-turning plots and interesting characters. The last third, however, is a bit strange, and that's when the book begins to wander and drag rather heavily.

The themes of truth/lies, imprisonment/freedom, and all the ways in which the human mind adapts to extreme circumstances are explo
Aug 18, 2019 rated it liked it
One of the more challenging ratings I've given. This book is not nearly as funby, even in a black comedy fashion, as I assumed from the blurb. It is primarily depressing, at times surreal, often uncomfortable, and in sections tedious.
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Read this one as I knew it was being adapted into a movie by Taika Waititi and wanted to see how he could handle such serious material. I’ve now seen the trailer and he makes a joke out of it. The story itself is quite interesting to start off with but then becomes a bit boring and I had to use all my resolve to actually finish it. Film looks worse. What a shame. Disappointed I wasted my time.
Nov 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
What a drag, I can't believe I've managed to read it till the last page
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Caging Skies is a WWII novel like none I’ve read before. The plot is simple yet complicated. You have the familiar narrative of a family who, in this case, conceal a young Jewish woman (named Elsa) in their home. However, the family isn’t only hiding the girl from the outside world, but from their own son, Johannes, who is a supporter of Hitler and an active member of the Hitler Youth. The majority of the book follows Johannes after he discovers Elsa concealed behind a wall in the family’s guest ...more
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing !!!
Review to come.
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Johannes gets sucks into the ideologies of the Nazi party when Austria becomes part of the Third Reich, and these ideologies are put to the test when he finds his family is hiding a Jewish Girl in the attic.

When I saw this was to be made into a movie, i expected a lot from it but unfortunately is disappointed.

The first 1/4 was really interesting, learning more about the Hitler youth, more about the ideologies and what that did to the family. However, from then on I felt it really dragged and w
Chris devine
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I'm kind of confused, this book came out over a decade ago and it has 6 reviews? I loved it! It's kind of darkly funny, the two just seem to torment each other, yet they rely on each other to survive. The timespan the book takes place in kind of caught me off guard at moments, just realizing how many years had gone by. The cover is horrible, for this edition at least. Hopefully they change it, but if not, don't judge it by the cover. If you like books, you'll like this.

I won this from a goodread
Courtney Lyn
Please enjoy additional book reviews & adventures on my blog: The Bull Crabs

The date finished is really the date I gave up. Life is too short to force yourself to read a book that doesn't deserve it.

I was bored in the beginning, stayed bored in the middle and as I neared the end the boring was getting so bad that I had to stop.

The book wasn't that bad in the beginning when the parents were alive. Reading about the struggle of the boy not knowing who was hiding in the house, what was going
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Giles Beige
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book! I've read it last year and loved it. Christine Leunens is an author I discovered coincidently some years ago while staying at friends home with nothing to read by but a few books I've already read and Primordial Soup. I've never regretted reading Primordial Soup and so Caging Skies was next.
Though it has very different setting (WW2 in Austria instead of contemporary US), I enjoyed Caging Skies in different ways but with the same intensity.
The "duel" between protagonists Elsa and Joha
Robert Saucedo
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
CAGING SKIES, the 2004 novel by Christine Leunens, was adapted into the upcoming movie JOJO RABBIT by Taika Waititi. While Waititi's film is about a World War II era German boy learning to not be a Nazi, CAGING SKIES is a tragic story about toxic relationships as told through s similar cast of characters.

The novel follows Johannes Betzler over nearly a decade of his life, beginning as a young, impressionable boy in Nazi-occupied Vienna who joins the Hitler Youth and is taken by the group's smart
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a mostly engaging, interesting read, with a kick-butt premise, but a denoument that disappoints.

The dramatic possibilities are endless: a young boy gets caught up in the "exciting" brownshirt culture of 1930s Austria as the rise of Hitler promises the citizens greatness, military success, and ethnic purity for their superior race. The young man's parents, by contrast, are not at all sympathetic to the Nazi agenda, and this causes severe tensions in the house. Then Johannes discovers his
In WWII-era Vienna, a little boy named Johannes learns to be proud of his Aryan face and burgeoning strength. After joining the Hitler Youth, Johannes’ whole sense of purpose revolves around fighting for Adolf Hitler. That is, until he becomes disfigured in a bombing raid and then finds his parents hiding a Jewish girl in his own house.

There is no help for the reader: it is an aching journey, sometimes funny or heartwarming, other times horrific. Reading Caging Skies (The Overlook Press) traps t
Kim Fox
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Subtle and disturbing, Caging Skies is a character study of an antihero. In essence, on the surface, a coming of age story of a young man in Nazi Germany influenced by the propaganda of the time, as well as the hormonal, emotional factors of a teenage boy.
Beneath that, a deeply disturbing exploration of power, dominance, unrequited love or lust, and misogyny.
Leunens brilliantly maintains the boy’s childlike justifications for his monstrous actions throughout the narrative, while making the sub
Sep 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: wwii, abuse, fiction
Okay to be fair part of the reason I really disliked this book so much was because of the book I read right before it (about sex trafficking and how victims are lied to until they believe in an alternate reality, where the abuser is their hero). That's how this book read to me. And I just didn't think it was funny. It's likely if I had read something else right before this won't have bothered me as much, but I didn't and this book was sad and really hard to get through.
Aug 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won this book from GoodReads. I have to say that I do not like this novel at all, but that does not keep me from acknowledging it as a good book. My reasons for disliking the book really have little to do with the book itself and more to do with my personal sensibilities. That said, there are a few contrived metaphors at the beginning of the novel, but otherwise the writing is pretty sound. The story itself is very interesting and very gripping. I want to be fair, so I give it three stars.
DNF about 33% in. Hate the main character and can see where this is going. I thought I could do it but after feeling more and more dismal as it goes on I decided I really do not want to read about a male character manipulating a woman into an abusive situation where the imbalance of power is sickening. Judging by the reviews there isn't a payoff for reading more.
Jillianne Hamilton
Aug 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Just a head’s up: from what I can tell from the Jojo Rabbit trailer, that movie is thematically different from this novel. I got this book making the assumption that they’d be closer but wow. I was quite mistaken. My bad.

This is a very serious literary fiction novel about manipulation, not a satire. I shouldn’t have assumed.

Not my cup of tea but you might enjoy it.
Jake Silman
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book very much! Picked it up in the school library as just another book but turned out to be my favorite book of all time! With stunning World War II facts about the Hitler Youth and a twist in the story that leaves you contemplating what's going to happen at the turn of your next page! With love adding its own cruel touch, this is definitely the book to read!
Sandra Rice
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most interesting books I have read in a while. There are a lot of layers here with psychology that make me almost want to read it again. It didn’t go the way I thought it would and it was a good thing. The only thing bothering me is the ending. Feels somewhat incomplete to me.
Wendy Kravetz
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
loved it was a good read
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned, audiobooks
I mean, I haven’t seen Jojo Rabbit yet, but my feeling is that Taika Waititi got stoned, read the dust jacket of this book, forgot most of it, and made a movie.
Kathy Webb
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won this book in a GoodReads giveaway.
Thank you to everyone involved.
This book is well written. Great for historical
Fiction fans!
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
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Christine Leunens is a New Zealand-Belgian novelist. She is the author of Primordial Soup, Caging Skies and A Can of Sunshine, which have been translated in over fifteen languages. Caging Skies has been adapted for film by director Taika Waititi, under the name Jojo Rabbit.
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