The Dog in the Wood. By Monika Schroder. 2009. (November 2009). Boyds Mill Press. 168 pages.
In the distance Fritz heard again the droning of engines.
What a short but incredibly powerful little book this is. Set in Germany in the very last days of the war. It concerns a family in crisis. Fritz's grandfather is a Nazi--even though the cause may be lost, is already lost according to everyone else in the village--his grandfather clings to his beloved cause until he doesn't. One moment he's all, I'll fight to the bitter end to protect my home, my family, my land, and the next moment he's hanging--yes, hanging--alongside his wife. Afraid that the Russians will do even worse if he doesn't go this way. What's a young boy, just ten or so, to do when life as he knows it suddenly isn't. What does the Russian arrival mean for him? For his mom and older sister? Can he find a way to be strong, to make it? Is what his mother say true, is the worst really over? Or is there more horror yet to come? This one is a coming-of-age story that is ugly at times but also very compelling.
The Dog in the Wood is a harsh novel. By harsh I mean realistic. It doesn't sugarcoat the effect of war. On women. On children. On everyone. It's a very human novel as well. One of those books where you see the very human side of war, of what it does to real people (though these people are fictional), to every day people like you and me. It's a haunting story all the more so because you know its based in truth.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews