Half Notes from Berlin
by B.V. Glants
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Pub Date 04 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 03 Oct 2022
Hans has always considered himself one of the lucky ones. Growing up in Germany during the Nazi regime, he was never the target of persecution.
But when Hans accidentally discovers a family secret, he realizes he is not as safe as he thought. Suddenly, the regime's grinding persecution of the Jews hits too close to home.
As his world shifts beneath his feet, Hans must learn to navigate the treacherous path of being both oppressor and oppressed — a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Hans is caught between two dark worlds and doesn't know which side he belongs on.
"Glants’s beautifully written historical debut explores themes of identity and resistance at the start of Hitler’s regime." –BookLife Reviews, Editors Pick
"A mesmerizing novel, moving and intelligent."–Kirkus Reviews
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 31 members
this was a beautifully done historical novel, B.V. Glants has a great writing style and I really enjoyed what was going on in this story. The characters felt like people that belonged in that time, I was so invested in their development. It was a respectful and beautifully done historical novel.
"My grandmother stood in the doorway shaking her head. She had a pious look, as if she had just come from a church and had listened to an uplifting sermon. Only her rose-colored felt hat, styled after the most fashionable debutantes of Berlin, gave her a lively, mischievous air."
A book that shows that nothing could keep you safe in Nazi Germany. Even if you thought being German would protect you. Especially when family secrets come to light.
A very chilling story…
Setting: Berlin, Germany, in 1933
Young Hans is a typical teenage boy. He enjoys hanging out with his schoolmates, and is beginning to feel interested in some young ladies in his class. Particularly Marie, who sings with him in a choir, and also in Rebecca. She is the only Jewish girl in Hans’ class at school, and he secretly admires the way she handles being bullied and seems to ignore the Nazi ideology being taught around her.
Then, Hans discovers a secret about his own family. His maternal grandparents converted from Judaism years ago. According to the new laws handed down in Germany by Adolph Hitler, they are still Jewish, as is his mother and also himself. Germany is becoming a dangerous place for such people, so Hans has decisions to make. If he keeps his mouth shut, perhaps no one will become the wiser. But his budding relationship with Rebecca must also be considered…
A somewhat different novel than what I'm used to but overall, I liked this story.
Well rounded out characters and the writing was superb.
Hans kept me engaged throughout the whole book and I loved his determination for survival. I think that what I loved most was his spirit and how he kept at it throughout his journey.
I think it's terrible about what happened to the Jews. They didn't deserve that and really no race does.
I did learn many a things from this story.
I hope I come across this author again because this was a good book and I didn't put it down until it was done.
5 stars for a job well done. I highly recommend
My thanks for a copy of this book. I was NOT required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Germany in the early 1930s was not the time for a young boy to fall in love with a Jewish girl. She was born in Germany and attended the Lutheran Church but that mattered not to the Third Reich. Her grandparents were German Jews. Rebecca is the smartest girl in the school as well as the prettiest. Hans has loved her since their second year in school and they became inseparable. His grandparents were also Jewish, but his parents disavowed any connection with that heritage.
The rise of the Third Reich caused a schism in Germany prior to WWII. The Jews were bankers and moneylenders because it was against the Christian religion to either borrow or lend. Therefore, the Jews controlled the banks.
Survival of any Jew in the Third Reich though meant immigrating to Israel or another country. Rebecca and her family left Germany because of the ban on doing any business with Jewish owned businesses or banks.
Because the way to become accepted in German society for a young man was to join the Hitler Youth, Hans had no choice but to join and wear the uniform. He enters the military but the love of his life is gone.
A well-plotted and paced narrative with emotional themes and unrequited love during war time. It is an interesting but sad saga. 4.5 stars – CE Williams
Set in 1933 Berlin, this beautifully evocative historical fiction is written with a lovely unique style and original perspective. Author B. V. Glants includes cultural descriptions of food, home life, school and what it was like to be Jewish and Aryan Germans during the first murmurings of the future WWII. The Jewish population was despised, scorned and treated abysmally. The Hitler Youth organization was forming under the Nazi umbrella and taking action against the Jewish students such as book burning, making life as difficult for them as they could.
Hans is German and comes from a well-to-do home where he understandably takes things for granted. However, his family does have secrets, one of which changes everything. When he discovers it, he is surprised and full of questions for his grandparents. His dearest school friend Rebecca is a Jewess and comes from straitened circumstances. Their relationship causes angst, jealousy, hatred and a plethora of other emotions from others. Hans finds himself torn between loyalties and as a teen is not yet equipped with wisdom and maturity to make the best choices. But he tries in his way.
My favourite aspects of this book are the haunting writing and the numerous historical details, very much in tune with the story which made me feel as though I was an arm's length observer. I appreciate that the author did not feel the need to explain every word or term such as Kristallnacht. The music connection is interesting.
However, it would have been wonderful to be privy to more character depth and inner struggles.
Those who seek originality in a pre WWII Historical Fiction, do add this to your list. Well worth your time.
My sincere thank you to The Book Whisperer and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this fascinating book.
This is an elegiac work by Mr. Glants, and earns a perch on my list of favorite books of this genre which also includes At the Wolf's Table by Rosella Postorino. The writer deftly brings the reader alongside young Hans, a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Go stride-for-stride with this preternaturally wise teen as he discovers his family's secrets.
And far worse -- their truths.
Hans is a typical teenage boy who has his eye on several girls, but Rebecca is one he especially admires. . She is the only Jewish girl in his class at school, and he admires the way she handles being bullied and seems to ignore the Nazi ideology. But then Hans discovers a secret about his own family, his maternal grandparents converted from Judaism years ago, and according to Hitler's new laws, they are still Jewish, as is his mother and himself. The best way to become assimilated into the German Society is for a young man to join the Hitler Youth, which Hans has no choice except to do. This was a interesting but sad read, with emotional themes of war time and unrequited love.
I really appreciated reading this book. I love historical fiction and especially books set during WWII. I am a Jewish woman and I feel that any kind of representation matters. I almost feel a responsibility to read these types of books because it is necessary to see what everyone has been through in the past.
Half Notes from Berlin is an excellent historical novel set in 1933 Berlin, in the early days of the Third Reich. More literary than driven by plot or action, it tells the story of a teenager struggling to come to grips with the antisemitism and anti-intellectualism coming to light in the new Germany. Even though it is about a teenager, the story is suitable for adult readers.
Hans lives in Berlin with his prosperous parents, a businessman and a professor of music. He attends high school where his friends encourage him to join the Hitler Youth. He watches as his father happily attempts to buy a boycotted Jewish business at a deep discount. Then he learns that his mother’s parents are Jews who long ago converted to Lutheranism. And he falls hard for classmate Rachel, a Jewish girl being ostracized by their classmates. He is appalled and repelled by antisemitism, and the dismissal of his headmaster and the book-burning his brown-shirted teacher compels him to participate. And yet, there is something seductive about National Socialism and the resurgence of Germany. It offers such a sense of belonging. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that? And who would feel ashamed by it? A coming-of-age young Hans?
Author B.V. Glants does a masterful job of examining the early days of the Third Reich before the racial laws were fully enacted and there was any such thing as a yellow star or “the night of broken glass.” He shows us National Socialism at the ground level. Readers will find almost nothing about Hitler or other famous Nazi leaders. There are no Goebbels-led torchlight parades, no Goehring-marshalled military extravaganzas. Just everyday men, women, and children—Germans and Jews--going about their business in the new Germany where antisemitism is as old as anyone can remember. And one young teen who struggles with love, honor, loneliness, shame, and, ultimately, infinite amounts of loss.
I sense there may be a sequel to this work. If so, I look forward to it.
My thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. The foregoing is my independent opinion.
This was an interesting book.
Taking place mostly in 1933 Berlin, Hans is a typical schoolboy until he found out his family's secret, that his mother is Jewish and therefore he is. He doesn't know what to do with this information, especially in racially charged Berlin before WW2 has begun.
This book was a quick read. It dabbles in a lot of different themes, but doesn't really dive too deeply into any of them. It was an interesting perspective on what it would have been like to be going to school in these pre-war years.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.
Half notes from Berlin is a very interesting read about a young man of high school age in 1933 Berlin. The author writes in the first person about the thoughts and feelings of Hans, the main character in the book and exactly how he felt when the Hitler Youth became popular and what it was like in school as teachers became pro Nazi and what it must have felt like for others, including his Jewish friends, The character is very empathetic. It was a very different read, but an enjoyable page turner.
Whenever I see a new book on NetGalley about the struggle of the Jews during WWII, I jump at the opportunity to request.
The book was totally different from others I have requested. The book is told from the Point of view of Hans, a young man who is forced to join the Hitler Youth . The character of Hans is so fully developed, I felt all his emotions. When he falls in love with Rebecca, a German Jew, and then discovers his own family secret I feel so deeply for him.
A wonderful story of bravery, love, and the power of the human spirit
Highly recommend. Five stars
Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for granting me a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.
I've read quite a bit of historical fiction set around WWII lately, but Half Notes from Berlin stands out due to the unique point of view of the protagonist, Hans. He is a typical German teenager, who discovers that his maternal grandparents were Jewish (they had converted), right at the time when Hitler was coming into power. This is largely a coming of age story. Hans gives glimpses into the future of himself and his family during the war, but the story mostly takes place prior to the war. I really felt for Hans; his desire to fit in, while also wanting to stand up for what's right is very relatable.
I received a free e-arc of this book through Netgalley.
I read a lot of WWII Historical Fiction so I was worried this book would be too much like other books I've read, but it wasn't. The POV of a German teenager who finds out a big secret about his family's heritage and tries to figure out how to deal with it as Hitler's power increases in Germany. It gave big announcements throughout the story so you already know in some ways how the family's story will turn out in the future, but the majority of the story is a coming of age tale torn between the nanny of his childhood and the joy/confusion of a first love. A worthwhile read.
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