SPG Book Reviews - Run Like Jäger

Reviewed by: Marie Powell

This young adult novel takes us across enemy lines and into the trenches of World War II - from the German side. 

Canadian exchange student Kurt Shreiber chooses Germany to improve his German, and to discover why his Opa or grandfather is so silent about the Second World War.

When the school bully Peter calls him a coward like his grandfather, Kurt becomes haunted by dreams and possibilities. He is also falling in love with Marta, his best friend at school. 

Marta's grandfather, Herr Wolfgang Brandt, turns out to have been Opa's best friend. Brandt, a former town mayor, is writing his memoirs and Kurt convinces him to talk about their wartime experience. Brandt calls Kurt's grandfather Jäger, or hunter. They were common soldiers and not members of the dreaded Nazi Secret Service or "SS." Yet they were trained in the Hitler Youth and believed in the "Führer," Adolf Hitler.

Karen Bass manages to get inside the head of a German soldier from World War II. Through Brandt's honest recounting of his experience, from wartime battles to being overcome on the Kanada building site at Auschwitz, Kurt develops a new respect for his grandfather. Readers move with Kurt past blame to greater awareness.

Other threads woven into Kurt's story include his thoughts as a Canadian high school exchange student in a foreign country, and his growing love for Marta and for his new home. 

Karen Bass works as a librarian in northern Alberta. "Run Like Jäger" is her first published novel.

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