Berlin, 1933. Hans believes he and his family are safe from persecution.
Driven by the desire to understand who he is and whether his mother’s blood really is tainted, Hans befriends Rebecca, the only Jewish girl he knows. Perhaps if Jewish blood isn’t evil, his mother will be ok.
To be a Jew in Hitler’s Germany is dangerous. But to fall in love with one is unthinkable.
Desperate to keep both his family’s true heritage and his love for Rebecca a secret, Hans attempts to navigate this terrifying new world. He’s disconsolate when his Jewish mother is kicked out from the Berlin Conservatory. He’s disgusted by his Aryan father’s aims to acquire Jewish business on the cheap.
Worst, he must watch helplessly as his classmates target Rebecca with increasing violence and malice.
But when his school announces it will expel Jewish students, Hans is determined to fight for Rebecca — and for the lives and souls of his family.
Young love is always passionate and heartfelt. 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 and that meant she had tainted blood. 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. His mother looked like her father, a perfect white Arian young man, and therefore the family was considered pure German.
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 and set the rates for borrowing.
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. His love for a Jewish girl, however, was ridiculed throughout middle school. He enters the military but the love of his life is gone. He is wounded during the 2nd World War and decorated many times but he never forgot his first love.
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
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars
Genre: Jewish Literature, Historical German Fiction, Jewish Historical Fiction
Publisher: Anchor Media
Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: October 4, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Links: Half Notes from Berlin [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
The Author: B.V. Glants was born in Soviet Ukraine and immigrated with his family to suburban New Jersey when he was ten years old. Raised on family stories ranging from his grandparents’ fight for survival in WW2 to his parents’ confrontations with Soviet antisemitism, he now lives in Silicon Valley with his wife and daughter.
B.V. Glants is a lay leader at a Jewish day school, a Wexner Heritage Program member, and a technology entrepreneur, most recently having cofounded Tonic Health (sold to R1, NASDAQ:RCM) and Turnkey Labs. That hasn’t stopped him from earning an MFA at California College of the Arts and attending writers’ conferences at Squaw and Sewanee. He writes historical fiction from a Jewish perspective, focusing on how major historical events challenge and transform the lives of everyday families. Half Notes from Berlin is his first published novel.
2022 CE Williams – V Williams