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Translated by Penny Hueston
Meet Max—it’s 1936, Bavaria, and he’s still a foetus inside his blonde, blue-eyed mother. Utterly indoctrinated in the Nazi ideology, he will address you, tell you his story until 1945—his destiny as an exceptional being, the prototype of the ‘Lebensborn’ (Fountains of Youth) program, designed to produce perfect specimens of the Aryan race to regenerate the Reich. When Max meets Lukas, a young Polish boy who resembles him but who rebels against the Nazi system, cracks starts to appear in Max’s convictions…
Max is compulsive reading. Against all your instincts to despise what Max tells you, about his childish cruelty, his attempts to eliminate any aspect of weakness in order to become a tough Hitler youth, you will find yourself somehow understanding him, becoming attached to this orphan who personifies the evil that people are capable of inflicting on children in times of war.
Max is a fascinating, confronting historical fable. A little-known aspect of the World War II is brought to life through two striking characters whose paths cross tragically. In the words of Sarah Cohen-Scali to her readers: ‘I hope that, as I did, you will be able to feel indulgent towards Max’s flaws, and that you will love him, defend him, and adopt this orphan of evil…’
‘A fascinating and disturbing journey…Max is highly original and moving in its depiction of both the bravery and resilience of children, and their ability to engage in acts of evil. Author Sarah Cohen-Scali has written a unique, sensitive and morally complex depiction of two lost and damaged boys.’
‘One of the most unique and impactful books that I’ve read for a long time. Even though Max is a child of evil, it’s tough not to love him and care for him..I challenge you all to not fall in love with Max and his story. Because it’s impossible.’
‘A fascinating fictionalisation of a very real piece of World War II history…Provocative and confronting.’
‘Cohen-Scali’s research for the work is impeccable and her storytelling convincing. Max is a timely reminder of the tragedy of war.’
‘Compelling for young adult and adult readers alike…A must read.’
‘A heartrending portrait of unlikely friendship and fierce defiance, and an impeccably researched glimpse into a deeply disturbing point in history. Unforgettable, bizarre, and brilliant.’
‘Readers will find Max’s story reminiscent of M.T. Anderson’s National Book Award-winning The Pox Party (2006). Horrific atrocities—and the ghastly realities of any war—seen through the eyes of a child with heartbreaking cognitive dissonance pack a wallop.’