After the Train by Gloria Whelan

After the TrainTen years after the end of the Second World War, the town of Rolfen, West Germany, looks just as peaceful and beautiful as ever, and thirteen-year-old Peter Liebig is a happy schoolboy waiting anxiously for summer vacation, a summer vacation that he’ll find filled with big lessons and truths. He is tired of school and endless lectures about the horrible Nazis of years earlier. He has a summer job waiting for him working with his dad restoring a very special bombed-out church, and he also has good buddies to play soccer with. He and those same buddies help save a Berlin Wall escapee, and he also tries to make things right when he overhears some anti-Semitic comments, but when Peter stumbles upon a letter he was never meant to see, his imagination takes over, creating scenarios in his life that might or might not be true. He is very troubled and confused by what he reads and he becomes determined to find out the truth.

I liked this historical fiction book about a boy seeking the truth of his thirteen years. Peter is persistent in his searchings and does not want to live a life that is a lie. I also liked how this story of people recovering from a very brutal time in Germany presents a good ending of acceptance and hope. Students reading this book will be introduced to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Claus von Stauffenberg, Dachau, the Berlin Wall, many German words like Apfelstrudel, Nusstorte, Schokoladentorte, Achtung, and Guten Abend. I think that children 4th grade and up would perhaps like reading this mystery rich with historical detail and rich with important subject matter for a good book discussion.

Posted by: Fran D.

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