Soldier X

Overview

In 1943, 16-year-old Erik experiences the horrors of war when he is drafted into the German army and sent to fight on the Russian front.

In 1943 sixteen-year-old Erik experiences the horrors of war when he is drafted into the German army and sent to fight on the Russian front.

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Overview

In 1943, 16-year-old Erik experiences the horrors of war when he is drafted into the German army and sent to fight on the Russian front.

In 1943 sixteen-year-old Erik experiences the horrors of war when he is drafted into the German army and sent to fight on the Russian front.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A WWII veteran and teacher is deemed a hero by his students, but he confides in readers that he fought for the Germans, not the Americans. "This riveting novel urges readers to look past the outer trappings of the enemy to discover the human being inside the uniform," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 12-up. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wulffson (Point Blank; The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle) poses haunting questions of allegiance, not only for his characters but for readers, with this behind-enemy-lines look at WWII. Veteran and teacher Erik Brandt's students deem him a hero, but he confides to readers that in WWII he fought for the Germans--not the Americans. He then flashes back to March 21, 1944, when at age 16, Erik, the son of a (deceased) German father and Russian mother, and a member of the Hitler Youth, boards a train bound for battle in Russia. Erik's idealism quickly fades as he witnesses firsthand the Third Reich's brutal treatment of Jews, the casualties of war (a nurse carrying a severed human leg) and the everyday compromises necessary to survive (the soldiers eat rats for sustenance). One of the most chilling quotes in the novel comes from a seasoned soldier when the teenaged reinforcements arrive at their post: "All the men are dead.... Now they are sending us boys." Wulffson effectively lays the groundwork for Erik's one chance for survival after a bloody German defeat in battle: Erik dresses in a dead enemy's clothes and, thanks to his fluency in Russian, passes as a Russian with amnesia, known as "X," in a Russian hospital. There he meets a beautiful nurse, Tamara, and although their love affair is not always convincing, the questions their relationship raises about loyalty (when she discovers Erik's true identity) are just as compelling as those found elsewhere in this riveting novel. With well-researched and meticulously recorded details of life under fire, Wulffson urges readers to look past the outer trappings of the enemy to discover the human being inside the uniform. Ages 10-14. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA
April 1944. Mere boys, just sixteen years old. Kinder—children—dying before they can even fire their rifles. Erik Brandt, a young conscript in Hitler's army, is sent to the Russian Front with scarcely three weeks of training. Scared, unprepared, he puts on the patched, bloodstained uniform of a dead man. "All the men are dead, now they are sending us boys," is his welcome to the war front. Erik fights a war he does not believe in, against people in his Russian-born mother's homeland. To make matters worse, he finds himself separated from his unit, trapped behind the enemy lines. His command of the Russian language and an overwhelming will to survive are his strongest weapons, and they serve him well. Best known for his scary stories and stories behind inventions, Wulffson does a credible job of telling Soldier X's story. From the prologue, readers will know that Erik survived the war, losing his left arm and all his innocence. They will come to care deeply about what happened to Erik. His story is one to read and contemplate. Based on real people, this tale could be of the life of any German soldier on the Russian Front during World War II, or for that matter, of any soldier in any war. Nothing is held back; the horrors of war are vivid and immediate. The youth of the soldiers is especially poignant, and teenage readers will easily identify with Erik and his ordeal. This striking tale is a good choice for depth in World War II fiction collections. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, Viking/Penguin, 244p, . Ages 12 to 15.Reviewer: Roxy Ekstrom SOURCE: VOYA, April 2001 (Vol. 24, No.1)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-In this gritty novel of World War II, 16-year-old Erik Brandt is forced to fight for the emaciated German army, and because of his knowledge of the Russian language, he is sent to the Russian front. The train trip that Erik and the other young men take is symbolic of their transition from child to man. These boys are sent to the front with only a few weeks of basic training and the directions to kill or be killed. After the first battle, Erik makes the life-altering decision to take the uniform of a dead Russian soldier and pretends to be Russian for most of his remaining time as a soldier, surviving serious wounds and finding the love of his life while he recuperates in a war hospital. There he pretends to have amnesia and takes the moniker "Soldier X." When the hospital is attacked, Erik and his girlfriend escape. After a harrowing journey filled with enemy encounters, they find a safe house in Czechoslovakia and eventually make their way to Berlin. The story is framed with a prologue and epilogue from Erik's perspective as an old man, and is full of his angst over killing others and having survived the war. This novel, which is based on a true story, will find an audience among readers who are not put off by the horrors of war and who would like to read about World War II from a different perspective.-Cheri Estes, Detroit Country Day School Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Almost 16 years old in 1944, Erik Brandt finds himself on a German troop train headed for the Eastern Front in Russia. Because his mother was born in Russia, he is bilingual and has volunteered to be an interpreter. What he and his fellow teenaged recruits find is that they are thrown into the front line of a battle near Tarnapol as part of an infantry division. Wounded in the trenches, Erik changes clothing with a dead Russian soldier and finds himself in a Russian field hospital feigning amnesia and constantly worrying about his Russian accent. In the weeks that follow, he gains assurance and friends and proves useful as an orderly. He is almost comfortable and less apprehensive until the moment that he spills hot oil on himself and cries out in German. The young Russian girl who hears him, Tamara, says nothing, and later becomes his companion as together, on foot, they flee a German offensive. Walking west through the Ukraine, facing danger and starvation, they use their increasingly effective survival skills and miraculously are taken in by a Czech woman who lives alone in her grand, war-damaged estate. Erik and Tamara grow to love each other and she stays faithful to him even as he is seriously wounded by American soldiers. Based on the lives of the author and his wife, this harrowing tale opens and concludes with the words of the adult Brandt. It is a compelling, graphic, and bloody depiction of war from the viewpoint of a raw recruit who is neither a Hitler fanatic nor a convert to communism. He simply and movingly records the daily horrors of living in a battlefield and his determination to survive and live freely. (Historical fiction. YA). . .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780756942458
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 7/28/2003
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

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