Cover Image: The Willow Wren

The Willow Wren

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

The Willow Wren by Phillip Schott pulled me in with its unique perspective. I found the young boy's observations to be fresh. The story was like a historical memoir to me. The narrator (Brian Webber) did a good job performing the book and his accent fit the book in my opinion. Thank you #NetGalley and #ECW Press for letting me review this book.
Was this review helpful?
An interesting telling of one German child’s World war story. The author highlights the hardships faced by many German families that did not sympathize with the nazis. Unfortunately I found the packing to be a bit slow and the characters hard to connect with
Was this review helpful?
The Willow Wren by Philipp Schott is a historical fiction biography war novel.  It is unlike any other war novel, I've read because it is written from a very different perspective.  Ludwig Schott, the real life father of the author, is the narrator.  He's 6 years old at the beginning of the story and 15 by the end.  The story begins in Germany before WWII begins. The anticipation and tension of the war and its subtle movements are written to perfection.  

Ludwig's father is a senior Nazi officer and philanderer.  Ludwig's mother is a depressed anti-nazi with six children trying to survive.  Ludwig and his older brother Theodur are constantly being impressed upon by the propaganda and at 9 years old, Ludwig  and 13 year old Theodur are sent to a Hitler Youth Camp.  I learned a lot about the camps which is something I knew next to nothing about.

Ludwig is an introverted and bright kid who is drawn to nature, especially birds.  He loves to read and looks up to his older brother.  He is constantly trying to figure out what is going on around him regarding the war and within his own family dynamics.  He uses his resourcefulness in order to deal with bullying and in order to survive, becoming the hero of the novel.

I appreciated that the last chapter is told by the author who gives an explanation of how the story came to be and what was based on truth.

 This audio was narrated by Brian Webber.  His accent took me a little bit to get used to but after a few chapters I appreciated the authenticity it brought to the story.  This is a fantastic novel to read if you are interested in WWII.  Even if you think you've read enough books on the subject, this one will give you a new or different perspective. 

Thank you to NetGalley and ECW Audio Press for the e-arc copy.
Was this review helpful?
The Willow Wren is an astounding memoir about a family in Germany and their survival of the Second World War. It is written by Philipp Schott, the son of the young man the story centers on, whose name was Ludwig. Starting before WW2, we meet a young Ludwig, who is bookish and bright. His father is a member of the Nazi party, but his mother is not. It is a source of contention between them, but, as she and her children move away to avoid the conflict in the city during the war, it does not play a central role in the book. Instead, we see the war through the eyes of a young boy who wants to spend his time in the woods with the birds and the trees,  a young boy who wants no part of the Hitler Youth program he is forced to endure, a young boy who just wants to grow up to be a forest ranger. Instead he must learn to hold a rifle and watch his older brother go to war. He must forage for mushrooms and berries  to help feed his family. He must search the notice boards for help finding food so they don’t starve. A very well written memoir that touches a part of the war that isn’t often discussed; the Germans who did not want war but had it thrust upon them. Great book. The narrator was fantastic. Highly recommend! Thanks to #NetGalley for the chance to listen and review #TheWillowWren. All opinions are my own. #bookstagram #all_the_pages
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to the author, publisher and Net Galley for an audio ARC of  The Willow Wren.  This is an interesting WW2 story.  I have never read a story from the point of view of a German child during and after WW2. Through this book you learn of the hardships of the innocent German people. It's important to remember that not all Germans supported Hitler. If you like memoirs and history this book is for you.
Was this review helpful?
This book was full of amazing detail of what it was like growing up in Germany during the rise of Hitler, WWII and its aftermath. As a history major who particularly enjoys learning about this time period I didn't mind all that detail. For a historical fiction reader I could see them having no issues with that as well, but for a straight fiction reader it might have been too much detail. The author could talk about forrests, birds, mushrooms, etc. for a long time. At times as I was listening I can say I tuned parts of this book out, because it was just a lot. The parts where the author told the story of the mother and her children trying to survive anyway they could were very engrossing and I couldn't stop listening. The father was not a character I could get behind. I found nothing to like about him and couldn't see anything redeeming in him. I wasn't surprised that he never acknowledged his own part in the war and instead deemed himself "fooled". I think too many Germans viewed themselves in this way. I plan t add this to my library's collection.
Was this review helpful?
This was a really interesting look at WWII through the eyes of a young German boy. Based on the author's father's personal history, I found it almost like a character study as it was so detailed and focused on the particulars of daily life. Things picked up in the second half as the family attempted to deal with the end of the war and its aftermath.
Loved the narrator!
Thank you for my audiobook.
Was this review helpful?
NetGalley provided me with this book in exchange for an honest review. 

If I wasn't a history teacher, I would likely have given this book three stars. I gave it an extra star for the historical value of the book. As a casual reader, though, I think I would have found this to be a very slow book. There was a lot of minutiae that felt really slow to get through. I WAS listening to the audio, which might have made a difference in how slow it felt. That said, I do think Ludwig's story is an important one, and it's important to remember that not everyone on the enemy side in a war is bad. Ludwig's story shows how little most Germans knew of what was really going on during WWII. I think it's common to ask "Why didn't the German people do something about the concentration camps?" but most Germans were unaware of them. It was interesting to see the inner workings of the Hitler Youth Camp, and especially interesting to learn about the years AFTER the war, when the Soviets took over east Germany. So while this may not have been the most exciting book to read, I do see a lot of educational and historical value in it, and may use it or portions of it for curriculum in the future.
Was this review helpful?
The Willow Wren is the story of Ludwig we get to live every single day of his life with him, we get to know his mother, and siblings what they went through, and what they had to do to survive the war.

this book was great even if the story of Ludwig was sad because he really describes all the things he went through, I was in shock when he narrates the terrible things his classmates did to others to bully them or make fun of them, there was a story that really broke me when Ludwig describes one of his great friends, that he liked to paint flowers and things what the other boys did to him broke me immensely. Ludwig was an introvert and maybe he was afraid to say something but I just can't understand how at that age he was so evil, I cried so hard when Ludwig describe his friend crying.. this scene was too much for me I wanted to rich out and hug the little boy.

Ludwig life was not easy as his father was working for the Nazis so he lived many things that he and his mother didn't agree, his father was so immersed in his position leaving them behind with so many problems, making Ludwig and his brother grow even faster to be able to help with the house and with his siblings.

They were so many great characters in this story Ludwig brother, his mother many of them was a huge key to this story, the only one that I never liked was Ludwig father, he was the typical man cheating and being absent at all times as his job was more important than caring for his family.

Many things happened for Ludwig and his family to be able to escape and live in a safe place, but ill let you discover that on your own, I don't want to spoil the great amazing story of Ludwig.

What I really love about this story, is the strength, the kindness, and the determination Ludwig had, he was an amazing character in the book, and in real life, as we can read. he was strong and determine to help and save his family at all times, he was an introvert but he had so much love that his love connected with nature and birds... the author really did a great job portraiting and bringing to life Ludwig story. Thank you, Philipp for sharing with us the story of your family.
Was this review helpful?
I have read/listened to many novels that narrated WWII in many perspectives. But this is the first book that I listened to from the experience of a boy who lived through the Hitler Youth camp. It is a powerful story of resilience and perseverance. 

Thank you Netgalley and ECW Press for giving me the opportunity to listen to this book.
Was this review helpful?
There have a burgeoning surge of books written about the Nazi's and their horrendous actions. Most of the stories I had personally read are from the perspective of Jews, whether they are a child, or an elderly woman. Other books relating to the topic, have been about the perspective of those elsewhere who watched as the fire of Nazi's hatred of Jews spread to country after country, much like what we hear today of Siberia and Iran wars. 

This book however, is from the perspective of someone who actually was being raised as a Hilter Youth, his family deep-seeped in their ignorance, their patriarchy as stubborn as a toothache. For this reason, I very much enjoyed this book. It brought another perspective, one often overlooked, on that dark period in history. The writing style is beautiful and fluid.
Was this review helpful?
My thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for this wonderful audio.

This story is told from the perspective  of the author,  Phillip Scott s father Ludwig from his memories and recollections.  Ludwig s father is a Nazi officer.   As the war progresses, his father has a mistress while his mother, with her different  beliefs ,splits her family up to save them.  Ludwig and his brother,  Theodur are sent to a Hitler Youth Camp which is a horrible experience,  but he accepts these challenges just to survive and plan to escape to the west.

I really enjoyed seeing ww2 from this perspective.   You want to root for Ludwig and Theodur. My only issue was with the narrative with some of the long German words, but highly recommend.
Was this review helpful?
An intriguing story of life for a family during WWII. Ludwig is a small awkward boy who's father sides with the Nazi party and believes that it is meant to help make a stronger Germany while his mother seems to be neutral or against this thought process. The story tells of life as people are evacuated and sons are sent to Hitler youth camps. This audio book was enthralling and explained the other side of most Holocaust stories. The side of the German families who's parents sided with the Nazi party or were duped into believing Hitler's ideas is not the story that is often heard. I found the narration to be quite good and sped through this audio book. Philipp Scott researched and listened closely to his father's story and I was quite excited to hear of how Ludwig Schott's life played out during and after the war. #NetgalleyAudio #WillowWren #PhilippSchott
Was this review helpful?
So I was leaning towards needing a break from WWII Historical Fiction but then I requested this audiobook and never looked back! Now I have 3 more waiting for me to read and review and I have No Regrets 🤣

So Willow Wren is both fascinating and unique, in the sense that we get to see things from the Nazis side... Sorrrrta. See, the author is writing about his father as a child, who was part of Hitler's Youth camps and who's own father was a decorated Nazi officer. Usually with this genre we see the horrors from the victim's point of view, this book flipped the script on us! We get to see the insanity through the eyes of a boy who's country is being torn in two - and household as well, since his father is an officer and his mother quickly sees through the nonsense and propoganda and her own world quickly becomes terrorized and soon her only priority is to keep her children safe. It's a wild ride, believe me, so buckle up friends!

Thank you netgalley for giving me a copy of the audiobook so that I can share my thoughts and opinions with y'all 🧡
Was this review helpful?
This is a fascinating book told in the voice of young Ludwig. Ludwig is small, introverted, loves to read, and loves nature and especially, the willow wren. His father is a senior Nazi, remote and forbidding. His mother is more approachable and doesn’t tolerate fools easily. Her concern is for her children. Ludwig’s story is set between the mid-1930s and 1949. A tumultuous period for Germany. Seeing Germany at this time, through the eyes of its’ citizens and through Ludwig’s young eyes, was stunning. It’s not a perspective one often finds in WWII novels. Eventually, Ludwig must make some very adult decisions, taking responsibility for his family as they attempt to flee to the West. 

This was a beautifully written novel. It’s a fictionalized account of the author’s grandfather, rich in detail and authentic. I enjoyed the audio version and thought the narrator did an exceptional job. With thanks to NetGalley and the author for a chance to enjoy this wonderful novel!
Was this review helpful?
The Willow Wren was a story about a boy living in Germany during WWII. It was very interesting to get a different view of from German boy whose father was for the Nazis and the mother was not.. I did learn a lot about the history of the Nazis.
Was this review helpful?
I have to say unlike other reviewers The Willow Wren didn't hit the right notes for me. The story of the author's father, it felt like Schott was trying to make his father shine and feel a way that does not feel accurate to me. The language is a strange mix of childish and adult, English and German, and just inconsistent to me. The narrator did an admirable job, but it just didn't work for me.
Was this review helpful?
Like so many others, I thought I needed a break from WWII Historical Fiction.  Don't miss this one! The story is based on the authors German father (who was around 11-12 years old at the end of the war).  Time span includes several years after the end of the war where the family was located in the Russian controlled East Germany.  I've read/listened to so many different WWII Point of Views, but rarely from a German youngster (with the exception of the Book Thief of course).
Fabulous. Definitely on my personal "best of" list for 2021 and might just be my favorite historical fiction that I've read this year (and I've read some great ones!).

I listened to the audiobook version of this book; the narrator (Brian Webber) did a great job.  

This book proves that you can have a great book without forcing a love story.  Thank you.  Bonus points.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher (ECW Press Audio), the author Philipp Schott and the narrator Brian Webber for the opportunity to read this advance read copy in exchange for an honest review.  Publication date was 23 March 2021.
Was this review helpful?
I found this an excellent addition to WW2 lit. Written by the son of the protagonist Ludwig, it tells the story of war through the eyes of a sensitive young German boy Ludwig. His father is a lawyer and a member of the Nazi party. His mother is not. The reader witnesses the fracture of the Schott family as the war splits them apart. 
Highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?
This is an incredible, harrowing story of a nation’s decent into darkness and depravity as Germany is subsumed by the Third Reich. Shown through the eyes of one young man drafted into Hitler’s youth program, this unforgettable story of courage comes to life in this harrowing audio book
Was this review helpful?