MG Book Review: Projekt 1065 by Alan Gratz

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Michael O’Shaunessey lives in Nazi Germany with his parents who are the Irish ambassadors. Because Ireland has remained neutral in the war, he and his parents have been allowed to stay. They all pretend to support the German war effort and Michael is even a member of Hitler Youth. But it’s all an act. They’re actually undercover spies.

Michael hates everything about the Nazis but he plays his part well. He makes friends with his classmate Fritz because Fritz’s father is working on a secret project to build jet airplanes, Projekt 1065. Michael uses the friendship to get access to the plans.

Their lives are complicated even more when Michael and his parents rescue Simon, an English pilot that had been shot down during a bombing raid. Simon hides in a secret closet in their home. Not only is Simon the enemy of Germany, he’s also a Jew. If it’s discovered that they’re hiding Simon, they’ll all be sent to the concentration camps.

If they could get Projekt 1065 to the Allies, it could help defeat Hitler. At only 13, Michael must make life or death choices that involve sacrificing those he loves to help stop the Nazis.

Alan Gratz has written a page-turning story of espionage, friendship, courage and sacrifice set in the later days of World War II in Berlin. It would be a perfect fiction companion to a WWII curriculum and is engaging enough to pull in even the most reluctant readers.

Regardless of its obvious educational value, I highly recommend it because it’s compelling on an emotional level and intellectual level. The war violence depicted might be disturbing so I recommend it for readers ages 10 and up.

Alan Gratz is the author of eight novels including Prisoner B-3087 which was the winner of YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults and 2014 Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year as well as being selected for 12 state award lists.

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