The boy at the top of the mountain by John Boyne
Doubleday, 2015. ISBN 9780552573542
(Ages: 10+) Recommended. The Boy at the Top of the Mountain follows protagonist Pierrot, a young boy who is sent to live with his aunt Beatrix in Germany during World War II. Hailing from Paris and being only seven years old, Pierrot knows little to nothing about the Nazis, but this all changes once he discovers that his aunt is a servant for Adolf Hitler, and his new home is the Berghof. Pierrot is quickly taken under Hitler's guidance, and Pierrot must decide not only whether he agrees with Hitler's motives, but whether he is strong enough to reject them.
When Pierrot arrives at the Berghof, he is stripped of everything he has ever known. He is told not to think of his old life, of his best friend that he left behind . . . he is even stripped of his name. All that remains with him is a single storybook and his memories.
Boyne has weaved together a powerful, heartbreaking and disturbing tale. Reading about Pierrot as he is growing up under Hitler's watchful eye, reading about his confusion as he struggles to make friends because of where he resides, and reading about his eventual choosing of which side he is truly on is hard to read due to both his naivety and his age (Pierrot ages from 7-16 during the course of the novel).
The only faults of the novel were that it was hard to connect with Pierrot as he sometimes seemed distant from the reader. Often, his voice at seven sounded more like he was of age thirteen, and this made it hard to believe the story at some points.
Boyne took many risks with this novel, and they certainly paid off. Pierrot is not a particularly likeable character, but the reader is compelled to continue the book nonetheless. The Boy at the Top of the Mountain is no doubt a spectacular read for children aged 10 and above who are beginning to learn about world history.
Breanne Foster (Student)