Publication Date: October 4, 2022
Hans believes he and his family are safe from persecution.
Then, he discovers his family’s dirty secret: his maternal grandparents were Jews who converted to Christianity.
Driven by the desire to understand who he is and whether his mother’s blood is tainted, Hans befriends Rebecca, the only Jewish girl he knows. Perhaps if Jewish blood isn’t evil, his mother will be ok.
To be a Jew in Hitler’s Germany is dangerous.
But to fall in love with one is unthinkable.
Desperate to keep both his family’s true heritage and his love for Rebecca a secret, Hans attempts to navigate this terrifying new world. He’s disconsolate when his Jewish mother is kicked out of the Berlin Conservatory. He’s disgusted by his Aryan father’s aims to acquire Jewish business on the cheap.
Worst, he must watch helplessly as his classmates target Rebecca with increasing violence and malice.
But when his school announces it will expel Jewish students, Hans is determined to fight for Rebecca — and the lives and souls of his family.
For decades, Hans has kept silent about those early years of the Nazi reign in Germany, saying that he wouldn’t look back until he was 100 years old. Once he reaches that historic milestone, he chronicles his coming-of-age story. With Half Notes from Berlin, author B.V. Glants highlights the first few months of 1933.
As change begins to sweep through Germany, Hans witnesses firsthand the hate building against the Jews. The students at his school are labeled as Hitler’s plans for Aryan domination takes shape. The real wake-up call for Hans is the discovery that he is part Jewish in spite of his mother’s assurances that her family members are converted Lutherans.
Although the storyline focuses on a short time span, it is packed with events that would have bewildered any teenager. Hans grows attached to a young Jewish girl and is determined to protect her and his family secret. Around every corner, there is a new challenge to demonstrate loyalty to the Nazis. Hans believes that if he serves the new regime, his family will remain safe.
As with the majority of the books focusing on Nazi Germany, the concept of safety has many different meanings. While Hans doesn’t go into detail about his mother’s fate, it is clear that it wasn’t a happily-ever-after scenario. Having the present-day prologue and epilogue helps to frame the significance of the events from 1933.
Half Notes from Berlin provides a window into the Third Reich through the eyes of a teen boy who worries that a family secret will put him on a collision course fraught with danger.
B.V. Glants was born in Soviet Ukraine and immigrated with his family to suburban New Jersey when he was ten years old. Raised on family stories ranging from his grandparents’ fight for survival in WW2 to his parents’ confrontations with Soviet antisemitism, he now lives in Silicon Valley with his wife and daughter.
B.V. Glants is a lay leader at a Jewish day school, a Wexner Heritage Program member, and a technology entrepreneur, most recently having cofounded Tonic Health (sold to R1, NASDAQ:RCM) and Turnkey Labs. That hasn’t stopped him from earning an MFA at California College of the Arts and attending writers’ conferences at Squaw and Sewanee. He writes historical fiction from a Jewish perspective, focusing on how major historical events challenge and transform the lives of everyday families. Half Notes from Berlin is his first published novel.
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