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Excerpt Day: Josef Jaeger by Jere' M. Fishback

Josef Jaeger by Jere' M. Fishback
Release Date: April 15, 2009
Publisher: Prizm Books
ISBN (print): 978-1-60370-685-8, 1-60370-685-2
ISBN (ebook): 978-1-60370-686-5, 1-60370-686-0
Publisher Link: http://www.prizmbooks.com/zen/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=12&products_id=47

Amazon: Josef Jaeger

Blurb: Josef Jaeger turns thirteen when Adolf Hitler is appointed Germany’s new Chancellor. When his mother dies, Josef is sent to Munich to live with his uncle, Ernst Roehm, the openly-homosexual chief of the Nazi brown shirts. Josef thinks he’s found a father-figure in his uncle and a mentor in his uncle's lover, streetwise Rudy, and when Roehm’s political connections land Josef a role in a propaganda movie, Josef’s sure he’s found the life he’s always wanted. But while living in Berlin during the film’s production, Josef falls in love with a Jewish boy, David, and Josef begins questioning his uncle’s beliefs.Complications arise when an old friend of his mother’s tells Josef that his mother was secretly murdered by the SS due to her political beliefs, possibly on Roehm’s order. Josef confides in his Hitler Youth leader, Max Klieg. Klieg admits he knows a few things, but he won’t share them with Josef till the boy proves himself worthy of a confidence. Conflicting beliefs war within Josef until he must decide where his true loyalties lie, and what he really believes in.

Excerpt:

The loneliness of my boyhood was painful. Mother tried her best to be my friend, and while her companionship was no substitute for the comradeship of boys my age, her time and attention became the bedrock of my life.
I could discuss anything with her and I kept no secrets. Often, before my bedtime, if visitors weren't present, I'd lie on the parlor sofa, my head resting in her lap, and I'd share my thoughts and daily experiences with her.

She would stroke my hair and listen.

I recall one such evening clearly: I was eleven and my feelings had been stung by not receiving an invitation to a classmate's birthday party. This event had been the subject of discussion at school for weeks. The boy's parents had arranged for a bus to transport their son's guests to a carnival in a nearby town. There would be horseback riding, games of chance, mechanical thrill rides, and a magic act. The children would enjoy grilled sausages, with cake and punch for dessert. It would be a grand time.

But when invitations were handed out on a Friday afternoon, I didn't get one, and I wept behind the school before riding home on my bicycle.

Was it my fault I had no confidence? Was I to blame for my inability to blend with other boys my age? Why was I always left out? Was my company such a burden?

When I asked Mother these questions, her eyes narrowed and glistened.

"You're getting punished for mistakes I've made, Josef. I hope you'll forgive me."

"For what?"

"My bad decisions, for not being the best mother I could be. What kind of life is this for you? Living in this dismal flat instead of a real home? Eating meals in dives, spending weekends in nightclubs with my silly, drunken friends?"

She tapped her breast with an index finger. "I'm the only woman I know who has a son but no husband. And we have no money--look at your clothes and shoes. It's not fair I send you to school in such condition."

Tears coursed down her cheeks, reflecting light from a table lamp. "Don't you see? Your classmates penalize you for being different. They don't know what a fine, intelligent boy you are." She sniffled and shook a fist in the air. "Damn those kids and their stuffed-shirt parents."

It made me feel better, hearing Mother curse them. I wanted to damn them to Hell myself. For social outsiders, perhaps the best means of self-protection is saying we don't wish to be included, that we don't care. And I tried my best to think that way--honestly I did--but I knew it wouldn't work for me.

I wanted to belong.
Tags: author: jere' m. fishback, excerpt
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