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Thursday, October 3, 2013

German Unity Day: Books from and about Germany

On this day in 1990, East and West Germany reunited into Germany. In the aftermath of WWII and the start of the Cold War, Germany was divided into 2, something that was strikingly symbolized by the Berlin Wall. In 1989, as Eastern European communism started to crumble, the most enduring images were those of common people tearing down the wall. Less than a year later, Germany reunified.

To celebrate, here are some books that take place in Germany or are written by German authors.

    

The Sound of Munich by Suzanne Nelson. Before he died, Sienna's father completed most of his bucket list. The only thing left is to find the man who smuggled him and his parents out of East Germany. Sienna's studying abroad in Munich and is determined to find him, even though her German isn't great and he has a really common name. This is my hands-down favorite installment of the Students Across the Seven Seas series.

My Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoevre, translated from the German by Tammi Reichel. Franziska Mangold escapes Nazi Germany through the Kinderstransport program, but when the war ends, she must decide to stay in England with her new family or return to see if anyone's left in her actual family. (This won the Batchelder Award this year)

The Dark Reflections Trilogy by Kai Meyer, translated by Elizabeth D. Crawford. Merle and her friends live in an alternate-magical version of Venice. It's under siege from Egypt, protected only be the Flowing Queen. When Egypt threatens the Queen, Merle and her friends are the only ones that can help. This volume contains all three books in the trilogy.

    

Baby's in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles by Arne Bellstorf. Before Sullivan, the Beatles played in Hamburg. But, it wasn't just John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Stuart Sutcliffe was still a part of the band then. Then he met photographer Astrid Kirchherr. This graphic novel is Astrid and Stuart's story.

Reckless by Cornelia Funke, translated from the German by Cornelia Funke and Lional Wigram. Jacob Reckless found a mirror that lets him enter a fantasy world, but the world is changing as technology from our world starts to encroach. As life at home gets more and more dire, Jacob spends more and more time in the mirror-world, until the day his brother Will follows him-- with tragic consequences.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, translated from the German by Arthur Wesley Wheen. This classic was one of my favorites in high school. The novel follows Paul and his classmates-- recent German graduates who know the truth behind the daily cable from the front to headquarters. "All Quiet on the Western Front" means nothing new to report-- but nothing new is Paul and his friends caught in the brutality of daily life and warfare in the trenches of WWI, just trying to survive.

    

The Princess Plot by Kirsten Boie, translated from the German by David Henry Wilson. Jenna wants to be special and when she's offered a movie role solely for her "presence" and is whisked off to nearby Scandia for filming... maybe she should have realized it was too good to be true. Her final "audition" is to fill in for the missing Scandian princess, but Jenna soon realizes that there's something wrong in the country and she's just become a political pawn in something much larger than she could imagine. Follow it with The Princess Trap/

The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis, translated from the German by Miriam Debbage. Good girl Anna falls for bad boy Abel, a boy trying to care for his little sister, who spins her a fairy tale based in their reality. But Anna begins to worry when Abel's enemies start turning up dead.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier, translated from the German by Anthea Bell. The women in Gwen's family are time-travelers, but it skips some people, including Gwen. It's her cousin Charlotte who's been training, so imagine Gwen's surprise when she's the one yanked into the past. The third book in this very popular series, Emerald Green comes out on Tuesday!

  

Zoo Station: The Story of Christiane F. by Christiane F., translated from the German by Christina Cartwright. At the age of 15 Christiane was the face of Berlin's heroin epidemic of the late 70s/early 80s. She had been a heroin addict since the age of 12, and spent two years as a prostitute to get a hit. Her story was first documented in a magazine article, then a best-selling book, and movie. This is a new translation of the book, with new photographs.

Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka, multiple translators. This collects all of Kafka's stories (but not the novels). Kafka is someone teens should read, not because he's a CLASSIC GOOD FOR YOU author, but because he's so weird, I think teens get him best.

Who are your favorite German authors? What books are missing from the list?

PS-- Does anyone know when Anthea Bell's birthday is? Because she deserves her own post!

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