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Caging Skies

3.11  ·  Rating details ·  989 ratings  ·  233 reviews
A gripping, atmospheric novel about obsession and love. 'Little by little, Elsa leaked out of her enclosure, strayed out into every corner of the house ...In my bed at night, she switched places with me, she enjoying the softness of my bed, and I finding myself cramped up in her airless niche.' This extraordinary novel is seen through the eyes of Johannes. An avid member ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by Harry N. Abrams (first published November 1st 2004)
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  • Caging Skies by Christine Leunens
    Caging Skies
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    Release date: Jan 07, 2020
    Enter for your chance to win a copy of CAGING SKIES, the inspiration for Taika Waititi's JOJO RABBIT—winner of the Academy Award for Best Adapted ...more

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    Giveaway dates: Feb 14 - Mar 13, 2020

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    Missy I'd say that there are far more developmentally appropriate WWII/Holocaust books out there that would be a better fit for tweens/young teens (Diary of…moreI'd say that there are far more developmentally appropriate WWII/Holocaust books out there that would be a better fit for tweens/young teens (Diary of Anne Frank, What The Night Sings, Tell No One Who You Are, and more - there's even a graphic novel version of Anne Frank!). This book assumes a base knowledge of WWII that I'd guess younger people may struggle with. Especially if this is someone's first exposure to the topic, I'd want them to pick a book that centers the voices of the oppressed instead of a Hitler Youth member.(less)
    Jennifer I received word from the author's assistant that Leunens made some edits and cuts in 2012 and that any foreign translations were made from the updated…moreI received word from the author's assistant that Leunens made some edits and cuts in 2012 and that any foreign translations were made from the updated version.(less)
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    Average rating 3.11  · 
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     ·  989 ratings  ·  233 reviews


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    Ken
    Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    This really was a book of two halves!

    Whilst the first part was absorbing and gave a fascinating insight into the effects of propaganda on young boys in the Hitler Youth, the second half takes a dark sinister turn that makes for uncomfortable and quite frankly disturbing reading.

    I’m not sure when I’ll get to see Taika Waititi’s take in the more satirical pleasing JoJo Rabbit, but the trailer seems like he’s taken all the best elements of the first part and enhanced it...

    Leunens certainly sets the
    ...more
    Sheri
    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
    ...more
    Aria
    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

    ...more
    Patricia
    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!
    Lark Benobi
    I waited impatiently for another dawn, tossing and turning.

    Well, no.

    This book is not for me.

    And maybe it's not for you, either, unless you crave sentences that are about as tasty as burned oatmeal.

    That said, if you happen to be one of those pesky readers who is sensitive to misplaced modifiers, then reading this novel will be less like eating burned oatmeal, and more eating old eggshells.
    Crystal
    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.
    Lola
    Nov 17, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
    What a drag, I can't believe I've managed to read it till the last page
    Neil
    Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    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.
    Nicola
    Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: audiobooks, owned
    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.
    Laura
    Oct 04, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
    I am having a really hard time deciding how I feel about this book. In many ways I hate it. I hate Johannes. I hate how he manipulates the people around him especially Elsa and blames them for his doing so. I hate how Johannes makes everything that another person does into a slight against himself. I hate that Johannes continually forces himself if Elsa for the first chunk of the book, then at some point she is all of a sudden interested in him. I hate that Elsa seems to literally change into a ...more
    Al Ornaz
    Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    ...more
    Kelly
    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
    Kim Lockhart
    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
    ...more
    Darren
    Aug 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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.
    Geonn Cannon
    Oct 23, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
    Maybe I'd like this better if I'd read it before seeing Jojo Rabbit (doubtful) but as it is, it finally lays to rest that "the book is always better" line.
    Amy
    Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    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
    ...more
    Katie
    Sep 09, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: wwii, fiction, abuse
    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.
    Karl Schaeffer
    Picked up this book because the movie “JoJo Rabbit” is getting some Oscar buzz, and the movie is based on this book. Johannes, the main character and the POV, is a total shite. Completely unlikable. The book takes place in Austria from the late 30’s to the late 40’s during the rise and fall of Nazi Germany. The Austrian’s welcomed the Nazi’s with open arms and were even more Nazi than the Germans. Johannes, as a pre teen in the late 30’s, becomes an ardent, earnest member of the Hitler Youth. ...more
    Selena Winters
    Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Why aren't more people reading about this one??? Hopefully the movie will renew interest in it. While it has the slightest hints of The Collector, it is quite different in content. It is a perfect example of 'you reap what you sow', and I honestly had no idea where the book was going to go!
    Carmen
    Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    I adored the movie JoJo Rabbit. It was hilarious, and it was also heart-wrenching. And I deeply cared about JoJo, Elsa, and JoJo's mother in the film. I laughed out loud, I cried real tears.

    So, this is the book that JoJo Rabbit is based on, and though the seeds of that script are in here, but that script and movie are definitely the product of the mind of Taika Watiti and the film is so much better for it.

    Johannes in the book is just an awful, awful person. The war ends about halfway through
    ...more
    orangerful
    I feel bad for this book because I only picked it up since it was listed as the "based on" book for JoJo Rabbit, a movie that I was interested in seeing. But it is clear from the trailer vs the book I just read that JoJo Rabbit is probably more "inspired by" this book than anything else.

    This is a VERY dark comedy, with a narrator that isn't so much unreliable as delusional but you know he is delusional because you're not a Nazi.

    This review/rating probably isn't fair since I was hoping for a
    ...more
    Fred
    May 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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
    ...more
    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
    ...more
    Stephen Groenewegen
    Some books, for whatever reason, rub you the wrong way and make a fair assessment impossible. The premise of Caging Skies served as inspiration for Taika Waititi's JoJo Rabbit film though, not having see the film yet, I suspect that film and book will bear little similarity.

    That premise juxtaposes a young boy in Austria at the start of the Second World War who is an enthusiastic member of the Hitler Youth, with parents that are quietly resisting the war to the extent that they conceal a Jewish
    ...more
    Jillyn
    Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: first-reads
    I really liked this book. I wasn't really quite sure what to expect, having read the synopsis and also having seen the trailer for the film based on it, Jojo Rabbit.

    Leunens has a really developed sense of writing. She's good at delivering emotion and tone, even when you don't really want to be feeling the things you're feeling. For example, that you feel bad for a devoted member of the Hitler Youth, and that you continue to feel bad even as he's supporting the Reich and as he's continuing to
    ...more
    Jennifer
    Jan 21, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
    Stephanie
    Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

    This was a quick read and I was able to binge it over two days. The first half is a thought-provoking historical fiction set in Austria during WW2. Johannes parents don’t agree with him joining the Hitler Youth but with the current state of politics in their country their hands are tied. This made for some interesting and sometimes tense discussions at home. I don’t often mark up books but there were conversations that Johannes has with his father that I knew I was going to want to remember
    ...more
    Dayle
    Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    I got into this book because I saw Jojo Rabbit and loved it. I wanted to read the source of inspiration because I loved the tale of a young boy taken in by propaganda who slowly comes to realise that the propaganda and his heroes are not all they are made out to be. Unfortunately, the sweetness and innocence of Johannes, the brightness and darkness of the story, and the occasional absurdity that made the movie so brilliant are missing from the story. Johannes is an adult, and an awful one at ...more
    Dramatically Bookish (ReviewsMayVary)
    I read this for one reason: the movie JoJo Rabbit was based on it. In the movie, Johannes has an imaginary friend who just happens to be Adolf Hitler. He is a member of the NaziYouth group and he is about 10 years old. Hitler is played by the weirdo Taika Waititi and JoJo has the opportunity for redemption in fighting off Hitler's wishes. It's cute and there are funny bits.

    In the book, Jo is around 17 when things really start to happen and he's a douche, as you might expect from someone who has
    ...more
    abby
    Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    i was gonna give this a 3 for mercy but.......nah

    maybe it’s just because i saw the movie before even knowing it had a book version but i did not like this. the timeline of the movie ended barely halfway through the book and after that i just....didn’t care where the story went, all i wanted was to finish it. i think the movie succeeds at telling a much more powerful story on so many levels.

    also the book doesn’t have taika waititi, so. there’s that.
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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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