Projekt 1065: A Novel of World War II, by Alan Gratz, is a historical fiction novel set in Nazi Germany, 1943. Michael O’Shaunessey, a 13-year-old-boy, is an Irish and German citizen and the son of the Irish ambassador to Germany. Because of Michael’s dad’s job, the family is living in Berlin during World War II. Ireland, while publicly neutral in WWII, is sending spies to Nazi Germany, including Michael’s parents. Things get even more complicated for Michael when he is required—as every German boy during the Third Reich—to join the Hitler-Jugend, or Hitler Youth. Michael’s parents advise him to keep a low profile and stay out of trouble to protect the family’s secret, but Michael has his own ideas.
Throughout the story Michael develops his spying skills and his ability to blend in, while staying true to his convictions. As a member of the Hitler Youth, he needs to resist the powerful propaganda machine that tried to eradicate the Jewish people and their culture from Germany. Reading this book, I found the pervasiveness of the Nazi indoctrination stunning. One example in O’Shaunessey’s novel is a math problem given to the Hitler Youth, which forces problem solvers to equate Jews with aliens.
The pace of this story is very good, with exciting moments happening in every chapter. I found Michael’s experiences as a newcomer in Berlin relatable because I have had to move a few times with my family and been in situations in which I hardly knew anybody. I also enjoyed learning more about WWII and what it might have been like to experience Nazi propaganda as a young person during the Third Reich.
This novel will appeal to readers who enjoy action-packed historical fiction, especially set during war conflicts. As I have always been interested in historical fiction and the two World Wars, this was the perfect book for me. Another book I liked, also set in WWII, is The Last Mission by Harry Mazer.
I recommend Projekt 1065 for middle schoolers and up. For younger readers, the I Survived series, by Lauren Tarshis, is an outstanding collection of life-and-death stories revolving around actual historical events, such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the sinking of the Titanic. (I was a big fan in elementary school and even got one of my books signed by the author!)
Projekt 1065 is the first book by Alan Gratz that I have read, but he has written other historical fiction on topics such as 9/11 (Ground Zero), D-Day (Allies, Resist), and the refugee crisis (Refugee). I cannot wait to start my next one!
Projekt 1065: A Novel of World War II by Alan Gratz. Scholastic Press, 2016. Buy the book here and help support Stone Soup in the process!