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The Boy at the Top of the Mountain
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October 2016: Historical Fiction > The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne - 4 stars

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Ellen | 2214 comments Pierrot Fischer is only 6 years old when he is orphaned by the death of his mother when she succumbed to tuberculosis. Pierrot's father, a German soldier who had fought in WWI, died mysteriously several years earlier when he was hit by a train. It was widely assumed that Herr Fischer had committed suicide as he was an angry, unhappy man who could not deal with the war's aftermath. Pierrot is forced to leave his Paris home, his beloved dog, and his best friend Anshel to be placed temporarily in an orphanage until another relative might be found.

Aunt Beatrix Fischer is a housekeeper in a large household high atop a mountain in Austria. The house is known as the Berghof and is one of the homes of Adolf Hitler. Beatrix is granted permission to bring her young nephew to live with her. It is 1935 and Beatrix is well aware of Hitler's plans and prejudices. She tells Pierrot that he will now be known as Pieter and that he must never mention his friend Anshel again. At first Pieter does not understand the subterfuge but as the years pass he becomes enamored of Hitler and his power. Pieter catches Hitler's eye and is soon being groomed into becoming a member of the youth brigade. Although he is continuously warned by Beatrix, Pieter embraces his new-found power and enjoys the privilege of being an insider. When Pieter uncovers a plot to assassinate Hitler, his emotions and loyalties are torn as it very likely involves his aunt. Will he keep quiet or betray the woman who has become like a mother to him?

This story was really not at all what I had expected although it was very good in its own way. Pierrot is not the sweet, naïve child that Bruno was in "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas". Deep within himself, Pierrot is aware that his actions and those of the soldiers he sees every day are not always right. He desperately wants to belong to something powerful and he finds the acceptance he craves in a tragic fashion. He is not a likeable character after awhile but it is easy to see how he became Pieter so willingly. This is a well done young adult novel.


message 2: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6541 comments Ellen wrote: "Pierrot Fischer is only 6 years old when he is orphaned by the death of his mother when she succumbed to tuberculosis. Pierrot's father, a German soldier who had fought in WWI, died mysteriously se..."

Great review, Ellen . . .sounds like a very interesting storyline, and I was all set to add it to my pile. At the end, you mention it is YA, and for some reason I'm not sure if I will like that. I've liked some YA, but not a whole lot. Do you think this is one most adults (old ones) will appreciate as well?


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