The Book That Made Me: James Mayhew 17/07/19
Last Train from Kummersdorf
Publisher: Faber and Faber
It is 1945 and as World War II draws to an end in Germany, two 14-year-olds meet while trying to reach safety. Effi, who loves jazz and dreams of becoming a singer, searches for her father, a political refugee who has joined the US army; Hanno, a policeman's son and dutiful member of the Hitler Youth, flees the Home Guard after his twin brother is shot dead. Despite different ideologies and initial mutual hostility, they stick together and a touching relationship develops.
Preconceptions are challenged and unlikely bonds formed during their perilous journey, as they battle hunger, bombs and brutal soldiers from both sides of the conflict. A powerful tale of bravery, adversity and hope, told from the perspective of German civilians.
This book tackles some complex issues of war, including death/murder and rape (not graphically explained but referred to several times). Also, smoking is commonplace (the 14-year-old protagonists smoke cigarettes and trade them for food and other goods).