Fiction. Young Adult. SECRETS IN THE SHADOWS, a young adult/crossover novel, is the story of best friends Michael and Wolfie who are boys growing up in Nazi Germany. Both of them are delighted to join the Hitler Youth. But by the time the boys are twelve, a devastating event turns their world upside down. On a school trip to Berlin, the boys see a beautiful Jewish girl boarding the train with her mother. Shortly after, a horrified Michael witnesses their brutal murder—the result of anti-Semitism. As a result, Michael's loyalty to Hitler begins to show cracks. In 1943 when Michael turns sixteen, his father orders him to volunteer with the Waffen SS, and Michael then goes on to serve in the Hitler Youth 12th SS Panzer Division. Wolfie joins as well. Boehm shows them on the grim battlefields fighting hand-to-hand in the villages and towns, sometimes against the Canadians. Seeing what is happening on the battlefield, they come to reject the Nazi regime and its propaganda. In the final showdown, Michael and Wolfie are ordered to travel to Berlin, and it is there they confront the secrets that lie in the shadows of the past.
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Heige S. Boehm's writing is greatly influenced by the stories and lives of her parents who grew up in Nazi Germany and, at the end of the war, found themselves in East Germany, locked behind the Iron Curtain. They escaped with their first two children to West Berlin in 1961, just days before the start of the building of the Berlin wall. After living in several refugee camps they settled for a few years in Euskirchen, where Heige was born in 1964. Eventually the family relocated to Cologne. With the family living beside a thoroughfare, Heige would awake at night to hear and see army tanks rumbling down the street. There was a WWII bomb shelter across the street, and she had heard stories of how a young boy had died in that bomb shelter. Heige's older sisters discovered a secret hiding place in their basement, and they told her that a Jewish family had hidden there during the war. She came to believe that WWII was still raging, a belief that was reinforced on visits to relatives in the former GDR (East Germany), where she saw bombed-out buildings and bullet-riddled structures. It wasn't until she was nine and her family immigrated to Canada that her war finally ended. It was then that her questions about the war began. The answers lie in SECRETS IN THE SHADOWS. Heige is a graduate of The Writers' Studio at Simon Fraser University. She now lives on the Sunshine Coast of Canada, where she is writing and researching her next novel that follows the life of one of the secondary characters in SECRETS IN THE SHADOWS.Author City: Sunshine Coast, BC CAN