The Boy Who Dared

“It’s morning.  Soft gray light slips over the tall redbrick wall.  It stretches across the exercise yard and reaches through the high, barred windows. In a cell on the ground floor, the light shifts dark shapes into a small stool, a scrawny table, and a bed made of wooden boards with no mattress or blanket. On that bed, a thin, huddled figure, Helmuth, a boy of seventeen, lies awake.Shivering. Trembling. It’s Tuesday. The Executioner works on Tuesday.” While awaiting execution, Helmuth’s flashbacks tell readers the story of his childhood as a Nazi youth member.  Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s  novel, The Boy Who Dared, tells the harrowing true story of a German youth during World War II.


Helmuth is a young idealistic Mormon who takes it upon himself to tell the truth to other Germans about the Nazi atrocities.  As a Hitler youth, he was taught that Hitler was a leader who would advance Germany.  The British Broadcasting Corporation news broadcasts unbiased radio reports and it was on this station that he secretly confirms the truths of Hitler’s egregious behavior.  With that mindset, he questions Hitler’s laws that diminished people’s freedoms.  This recognition encourages him to create and distribute pamphlets of his own writing to mailboxes, telephone boxes and even to Gestapo cloakrooms.  His courage inspired me to stand up for what I believe in and stick up for others.


Most of the books that I have read about the Holocaust are from a Jewish person’s perspective.  After reading this book about a Mormon youth, I found that not only Jews but a profuse amount of Germans despised Hitler as well. Unlike most Germans who loathed Hitler, Helmuth had the courage to speak and share the truth no matter what the consequences.  The author of The Boy Who Dared kept me in suspense about the book even after I finished reading.  During the day, I would sometimes wonder what was going to happen next.  Whenever I opened the book to start reading, I felt as though I was apart of it myself.  This book is right up your alley if you’re interested in reading an inspirational story about a teen trying to make a difference.


Author: Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Genre: Historical Fiction