For such a small book it packs a large punch.
I only discovered this novella recently when I saw someone reading it on a train and the cover intrigued me enough that I searched it out.
Set in 30s Germany with the rise of Nazism as the background, two boys who were both outsiders start a friendship that has difficulties even outside the scope of the historical backdrop.
Hans is Jewish and the son of a doctor, very middle class. Konradin is a member of the von Hohenfels family, aristocrats.
The tension builds throughout the book, showing so many similarities between the boys, but at times throwing the class hierarchies into stark relief. There are several excellent scenes where this is shown, one is Hans’ fathers reaction to first meeting Konradin, he becomes very rigid and formal and relies on his military service to give him status with the young aristocrat.
The real world eventually comes to a head and Hans has to leave Germany. I won’t give away the ending which was surprising.
A beautifully written relationship, consumed the whole thing in one sitting