The Berlin Boxing Club

The Berlin Boxing Club

by Robert Sharenow


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Sydney Taylor Award-winning novel Berlin Boxing Club is loosely inspired by the true story of boxer Max Schmeling's experiences following Kristallnacht. Publishers Weekly called it "a masterful historical novel" in a starred review.

Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew; after all, he's never even been in a synagogue. But the bullies at his school in Nazi-era Berlin don't care that Karl's family doesn't practice religion. Demoralized by their attacks against a heritage he doesn't accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth.

Then Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German hero, makes a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons. A skilled cartoonist, Karl has never had an interest in boxing, but now it seems like the perfect chance to reinvent himself.

But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: family protector. And as Max's fame forces him to associate with Nazi elites, Karl begins to wonder where his hero's sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his boxing dreams with his obligation to keep his family out of harm's way?

Includes an author's note and sources page detailing the factual inspirations behind the novel.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061579707
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/23/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 404
Sales rank: 46,454
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.97(d)
Lexile: 880L (what's this?)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

Robert Sharenow is an award-winning writer and television producer. His most recent novel, The Berlin Boxing Club, was awarded the Sydney Taylor Award by the Association of Jewish Libraries and received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews. He also serves as executive vice president and general manager of Lifetime. He lives in New York with his wife, two daughters, and their dog, Lucy.

What People are Saying About This

Robert Lipsyte

“I held my breath as Karl Stern, fierce and thoughtful, fought his way through the Nazi Wolf Pack and his own insecurities to save his family and become a boxer and an artist.”

Customer Reviews

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Berlin Boxing Club 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
seattlems More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderfully written historical novel set in Germany at the start of WWII. It will appeal to historical fiction readers, boys who are fascinated by boxing and those interested in the oppression of Jews in Germany before WWII. The book is complex, so higher level thinkers and strong capable readers will enjoy the book from start to finish. Reading this book made me go to the internet to research the real boxers who's names I had only heard of in order to understand more of the historical context. I call that a winner for readers and historians.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book in order to get into my next grade level. At first I thought it would be a story from the germans' biased perspective. Even though there is a lot of german propaganda against jews such as Karl Stern, this book shows you Germany from a boy who was related to Jewish citizens, but neve practiced their religion. He also gets abused in very disgusting ways by a group of sadistic germans known as the wolf pack. This is a well written story about overcoming obstacles in life to achieve your goal. (I am sorry if I offended anyone of a Jewish or Germain background for I only wrote what I observed about the germains)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book at random at my library and couldn't put it down after. Highly recommened!
Ladystorm More than 1 year ago
This is a fantastic book based in Nazi era Germany. Karl Stern, is Jewish by birth but not by religion. His family does not practice nor do they have anything to do with being Jewish. Karl has never really had a problem with any kids because he doesn't really have the look of a Jew. He soon finds out that it doesn't matter if you practice the religion, or if you look the part. To those in Nazi Germany, a Jew is a Jew. Karl is cornered by some kids he deems as "The Wolf Pack" and they confront him about being a Jew, this is his first experience with hatred towards Jews and it will only get worse. Karl's father is a art dealer, and a very stubborn and prideful man. Even though most artist are leaving Germany do to Hitler taking away the freedom to express oneself in any form but the way of Nazis, Karl's father still hold to his art gallery. After Karl is beat up, his father makes a deal with Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero. Max wanted a painted that Sig (Karl's father) has so they make a deal that Max will give Karl boxing lesson and Max can have the painting. Karl is thrilled, and soon starts a training regimen that Max gives him. As things start heating up in Germany, Karl soon realizes how bad it really is for the Jewish population. Although his father refuses to see it, it will eventual catch up to Karl and his family. This is a story told through the eyes of a teenager as he sees his world crumbling before him as Hitlers propaganda grows. I can honestly say when I was asked to review this book that I wasn't really sure whether to say yes or no, this is really not my type of book. I am not a big fan of any stories set around WWII, as its not my favorite war. My step-grandfather was part Jew and so I get a little aggravated when reading or watching anything to do with WWII, but this was a very well told story. The author took actual characters and events and then wove a fictitious story around them, and he did it with creative style. Max Schemling was a real German boxer from the Nazi era and I found it very interesting how the author puts him into the story. From the very first page I knew this story was going to upset me as well as entertain me. This is the first time in a long time, that I have read a book that grabbed me from the first page and held my attention to the last page. Karl Stern is a well developed character and you really can feel his conflicting emotions through out the story. I really wanted to punch the punching bag with him when he was frustrated. From the things that happen within his own life (girlfriend, friends, school, boxing), to what was happening with his family as a whole. This story is very fast paced and gripping and I think even if its not your style of book that it is a powerful enough book to get anybodies attention. I would recommend this book to everyone.
Greatness More than 1 year ago
At first glance, this book has everything: very positive reviews by critics, the customers seem to like the book and it even won The Sydney Taylor Award. I was expecting a masterpiece of fiction, and had very high hopes until I started reading the book. Right from the beginning, I was scratching my head at how in the world the Wolf Pack would know that Karl was Jewish if he didn't practice his religion and looked nothing like the stereotypical Jewish person unless they searched extensively through his records and family ties, which seems like a lot of work for some lowly bullies. I shook that off however, and kept on hoping that was a one time issue and the rest must be gold. I was wrong. Continuing on, the book just seemed like all of the Holocaust events were a side thought and didn't belong in the novel. There was a complete lack of emotion for the events that should have been groundbreaking like the Nuremberg Laws, a major missed opportunity for the author. I also felt as if the book could have been set today and nobody would have been the wiser. There was something that felt so recent that took away from the usual magic of historical fiction. I had a minor issue with the characters. A lot of them felt one-sided and dull, but I did like the adults in the story as they seemed realistic and had more depth then a lot of the children, including Karl. There is also a surprising lack of real conflict in the story as the main conflict, the Holocaust, wasn't written fantastically. The one thing that I do like about the novel is the boxing. It was the best part of the story, and was written very well compared to the other parts of the story. If you like boxing and an interesting plot idea, this book would be okay for you. However, if you are craving more than good and mediocre look elsewhere.
ken1952 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ah, me! Young adult novels are wasted on the young. Why is it that adult readers sometimes scoff at the idea of reading a YA book? They don't know what they're missing. Case in point: Robert Sharenow's THE BERLIN BOXING CLUB, an unforgettable story set in pre-war Nazi Germany. As the novel opens we meet Karl a thin and willowy teenager who has to withstand the mental and physical cruelty imposed on him by a group of boys at school who find out that he's Jewish. When famed boxer Max Schmeling takes an interest in the teen and decides that Karl's cuts and bruises couldn't have been caused by a simple fall down the stairs, Max offers to teach Karl the art of boxing. Even though Karl's talents in the ring begin to win him fame and adoration (most people don't know he's Jewish), they eventually can't stop the vicious attacks that he and his family are subjected to. Please put this absorbing novel on your "to read" list. You won't be disappointed.
lilibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Karl Stern is not religious; he doesn't even look Jewish. But in 1930's Germany, the Nuremberg laws prohibited Jews from taking part in public life. Scorned and then expelled from school, evicted from his apartment, he is happy to get a chance to train with Germany's greatest boxer as a way to prove himself.
cattwing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book started out promisingly enough - decent characters, plotting, writing, etc. I was frustrated by the simplicity of some of the characgter's thoughts and the writing style, but for all I know that simplicity is perfect for the book's inteded age group, so, being older, I can't judge on that count. What ultimately made me put the book down half way through though was the lack of conflict. A good plot, even if it solves a minor problem or two, will continually increase and complicate the problems facing the characters until the climax. This book did not. I felt there was nothing more to worry about by the middle - and just couldn't get my interested worked back up again. Would not recommend.
KarenBall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A lot of people will tell you that the first thing you have to learn is how to take a punch. But I believe the first thing you should know is that you can take one and survive. Conquering your fear is the first step to becoming a powerful fighter.Karl is a blond, skinny fourteen-year-old in 1930s Berlin, when Hitler is on the rise and with him Nazi-approved racism and prejudice. Though he doesn't look like the Jewish stereotype and has never practiced the faith, the bullies in his school torment Karl for his heritage as well as the government. When his father the art dealer barters a deal with world famous boxer Max Schmeling, he benefits: Max gets a painting for giving Karl boxing lessons at the Berlin Boxing Club, where Max trains when he is in Germany. Karl begins as a frightened boy, but quickly takes to the sport, finding comfort and purpose there when everything else is falling apart: his home life with a mother battling depression and a father losing his business more day by day, being expelled from school for being Jewish, and having to hide his new relationship with a beautiful girl. As the situation for Jews in Germany deteriorates, Karl's boxing skills improve as well as his cartooning skills, but it becomes clear that in order to survive, they will need to leave Germany. The only person they know with any power to help would be Max Schmeling... but Max has been socializing with Hitler and his Nazi Party elite, and Germany has become a viper's nest of betrayal and treachery. Karl has no idea how far he can trust him, and lives depend upon that decision. Excellent historical fiction: lots of sports details from the 1936 Olympics held in Berlin and from Max Schmeling's many famous fights, and a gripping tale of what life was like for German Jews in Berlin. Told from Karl's point of view, with all of his mistakes, missteps and misgivings, this is a great guy read. 8th grade and up - awesome addition to Holocaust-era fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like this book because its not only informing about the Holocaust and its also entertaining. Although I like this book I don't like how it left a lot of events hanging and I feel like I had a questions remaining. I don't know if he ever saw the girl again and did he ever boxed again?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WHY DID IT HAVE TO END LIKE THAT? What happenes to everyone ..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Karl's modest upbringing and inspirational background makes him an intriguing character to root for at a time of despair during the perils of the Holocaust. While other novels focus on the tragedies of the horrific event, the Berlin Boxing Club sheds a necessary light on the atempted resistance. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The harsh depiction of Nazi Germany is all too accurate in this compelling and heartwarming story of a boy and his dedication to not only boxing, but his family. Highly recommended for teens as there are some harsh, inappropriate, and plain awkward parts. Overall, a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JordanRose More than 1 year ago
I was not expecting to check this book out at the library; I saw it, read the description really quickly, made a split-second decision, and took it. It was just one of those book you check out on a whim and hope it’s give. I was a bit skeptical at first because it didn’t seem to be the type of book that I normally read, but once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop. World War II-era books that are based in Germany can easily become repetitive and dreary, but luckily The Berlin Boxing Club did not fall into this rut. I loved that Sharenow didn’t sugarcoat any of the events; he had many graphic descriptions of the atrocities that occurred to Jews during that time. Because of the emphasis on boxing, I was really able to develop a deeper respect for boxing. Lately I’ve found that I am a small boxing fan; I don’t watch it much or know a lot about it, but I find it much more interesting and entertaining than any other televised sports (i.e. football, basketball, soccer). I really liked that I was able to learn about the basics of boxing alongside Karl. As he learned the different punches and jabs, I learned the different punches and jabs. The character development was a bit confusing to me, however. For instance, Karl was extremely dynamic in many ways, but at the same time there were certain instances where he seemed to hold onto traits that he had in the beginning of the novel. Now, I won’t go into detail because I hate spoilers, but there is one instance at the end of the novel where Karl can either choose to help someone or choose to run away like a coward, and the decision that he ends up making is one that I feel he would have made in the beginning of the book before he changed. I felt the beginning-middle half of the book went at a normal, casual pace that was easy to follow. The last half of the book was just as well-written and easy to follow, but I felt that the pacing was a bit too fast. Too much seemed to happen in too short of an amount of time. It was as if the major events happened in the last one hundred pages of the book. Overall, this is, quite, simply, a really good book. It’s brutal, cruel, and harsh, but that was the reality of Nazi-era Germany.
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when is Sharenow going to write a sequel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book to read for teenager or an adult.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago