Character Sketch: The Berlin Boxing Club – Karl

Character:  Karl

Book:  The Berlin Boxing Club

Publisher:  HarperTeen or HarperCollins

Author:  Robert Sharenow

Genre:  Historical Fiction

            Now, before we begin the actual sketch I would like to say something. This book is one of the best books I have ever read in my entire life. Period. Before, I would say it was the best historical fiction book or the best non-series book I’ve ever read. But only a couple of days after I read the book do I truly start to appreciate it. It is the most powerfully written book I’ve read, heard of, or seen. And it does look daunting when you see it. It’s almost four hundred pages long. But it flies by like a starving fruit bat after a towering mango, kiwi, and kumquat tree. Also known as the Maniwiquat tree. (I just made that up, but it does sound good, doesn’t it?) I could go on and on about how outlandishly awesome this book is, but you want to read the sketch, don’t you?

Karl is a vulnerable, timid teen that lives in Germany with his Mother, Father, and sister, Hildegard (aka Winzig or Hildy). He is a skilled cartoonist, as you will see as the book goes along. He goes to school with the Wolf Pack, a gang of bullies that torment Jews. This book takes place during WW2 when the Nazis are trying to eliminate all “mongrel” races, such as Jews, Negros, and Gypsies from the country. Karl is of Jewish heritage, but he doesn’t consider himself to be a Jew because he’s never practiced any religion. He is very vigilant not to get into fights and tries to subside from any possible violence, but it is only a matter of time before the Wolf Pack finds out.

One day when he is meandering down the hall, the imperious gang finds out and they beat him up until he does something absolutely repugnant. He pees himself (and gets a wholly inappropriate nickname as well). Then that same day at his father’s art gallery, he meets Max Schmeling, a legendary boxer. He is a friend of Karl’s father and takes Karl up as his private student. In the ring he learns how to counter and return punches with some skill, but most importantly, he makes friends and his furtive personality decreases. Then one day, doing his daily workout he is spotted by his long-time crush, Greta Hauser. Please don’t make me say what happens in detail, just let me say that he gets into a weird, slightly gross situation. Then new laws are passed and Karl is banished from his school and after a suspenseful night of eavesdropping, he finds out that they can no longer live in their apartment. He loses everything. Even his second life at the Berlin Boxing Club. He has to protect his family because they are Jews and one night fails miserably. Then he sets off for the promised land of America.

This is the inspirational story of a person who undergoes immense changes. One day he is weak, frail, and utterly hopeless, and the next day he is muscle-bound, strong, and the teen almost everyone wants to be. (Well, maybe not the next day, the book takes course over four years). He gets everything then loses even more. This book has everything in it, humanity, cruelty, love (*urgh*), courage, weakness, sadness, happiness, and desperation. However, this book has many disturbing things in it. Whether that is foreign swear words, religious discrimination, or media violence (it’s not gory, though), I would not recommend this to anyone under the age of 14. Not wholly because of reading level, even though it is at that level, because of, well, the things that I just listed. If you are not a teen, don’t be discouraged, it is a book for everyone 14 and older.


Posted by Fred Reads



Filed under Uncategorized

9 responses to “Character Sketch: The Berlin Boxing Club – Karl

  1. Fred!

    What a GREAT idea! I love that you chose to do a character sketch. It gave me an overview of the book, a special look at a character in it, a recommended audience, AND I got to know your opinion about the book.

    This post, I think, is the best post on the blog so far. Bravo.

    This seems like a book I would enjoy very muchso. I have decided to pick it up from the library and read it. Stay tuned for my two cents on it. 😉

    Ten Words?


  2. Fred Reads

    Really close.


    • I only got 4 out o 10!?! Sheesh. Who is coming up with these words? 😛

      • Fred Reads

        Well, actually, some of the words are bent a bit, like “eavesdropping”, so you didn’t really get to many of the words wrong. And my mom gets the words out of “101 words every middle schooler should know”. I’ve gotten more words wrong this month than I’ve gotten wrong in my entire time at my old school. (and my average per week is three). It’s finally up to my level.

  3. Fred Reads

    You probably won’t like it as much as I did, but good idea. Did you actually get it? (But then again, it’s probably stupid to ask, seeing that your library is like eight stories tall.) 🙂

    • I DID actually get it. I am about halfway through it. So ar, it is quite enjoyable. 🙂

      About Libraries, here is something to think about…

      The Seattle Public Library system was established in 1890, includes 26 branches (yes, the downtown “central” branch is 10 stories tall), and has 2,446,355 items in its collection as of 2011.

      The Milwaukee Public Library system was established in 1878, includes 12 branches, and has 2,828,529 items in its collection as of 2007 (the last published count).

      There are TWICE as many branches in Seattle as Milwaukee, but 382,174 MORE items available in the Milwaukee system than the Seattle System. Why do you think that is?

      Another interesting tidbit: The National Library of Congress has 151,785,778 items catalouged. WOW!

  4. Fred Reads

    Hey, what do you think about me stating my own blog? It would be a blog for me and my friends (if they want to) but it wouldn’t just be about books. (Don’t get me wrong, I do like this site). If you think I could do it could you make a comment to my mom on Facebook? She doesn’t understand why I would need a blog. Also, do you think I should make it private or public?

    • Well before you start a blog you need to know:

      1.What the topic of the blog will be (like this one is book reviews for Young Readers)
      2. Who will be contributing to the blog.
      3. Who will be running the blog (in this case, me) There can only be one.
      4. Who you want to read the blog (friends, family, the public, just yourself, etc)

      Answer me those and I will think about it. 😉

  5. Fred Reads

    My friends will be contributing to the blog. The topic of my blog would just be, well, stuff that kids my age would be interested in, like if we saw a movie, read a book, played a game, etc, they would write a review on it. I would of course, be running the blog (with tolerated help from my mom). It would be available to my friends and family. Also, what do you think I should name it? (I’m thinking of maybe something related to Yoda).

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