Run Like Jäger by Karen Bass

(Cover picture courtesy of Amazon.)

Kurt Schreiber has come to Germany for his final year of high school.  He says it’s to improve his German.  But he also hopes to learn what Opa—his grandfather—did during World War Two.  Because Opa never talks about it.

At school, Kurt meets Marta, a girl who wants to be his friend, maybe more.  And Peter, a tough guy who calls him a coward an wants to beat him up.  Kurt escapes into something he does well—he’s an excellent runner.  But running doesn’t solve his problems.

One evening, in a graveyard, Kurt meets Herr Brandt, Opa’s boyhood friend.  Maybe he can tell Kurt what he wants to know.

But is Kurt ready to hear it?

There are many books in the YA genre that deal with World War II, but Run Like Jäger is by far one of the best.  Unlike many books, it deals with WWII from a German perspective.  Kurt, the protagonist, comes to Germany to learn what happened during the war that made his grandfather so reluctant to talk about it.  He does eventually learn the truth and it challenges both him and readers to change their assumptions about WWII Germany.

Kurt is certainly a well-developed, sympathetic character who is spared no heartache by Karen Bass.  In addition to his struggle to find out the truth, he is an outcast whose only friend is a girl named Marta, who may only be his friend because she feels sorry for him.  His growing feelings for Marta are eventually reciprocated, but it is by no means an easy path for Kurt.

Filled with great plot twists, three dimensional characters and interesting historical details, Run Like Jäger is a book that everyone, young and old alike, will enjoy.  I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fresh perspective on WWII.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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