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The Other Side of the Story Blog Post

Please check out my article about my perculiar writing process that is being featured at Janice Hardy’s site for writers, The Other Side of the Story. Link is below

Interview, Review and Guest Post at

I did an interview that is currently posted at along with guest blog about my experiences as a failed cartoonist. They also posted a very nice review of Berlin. Please check out the links below.

A Third Starred Review from School Library Journal!

This powerful and thought-provoking novel set in Berlin from 1934 to 1938 dramatically chronicles the impact of Hitler’s rise to power through the eyes of Karl Stern. After suffering a humiliating beating by some pro-Nazi bullies, the 13-year-old happily accepts the chance to be coached by Max Schmeling, the champion boxer he meets at a reception in his father’s art gallery. Boxing has never been one of Karl’s interests, but it becomes his main focus. Prior to his humiliation at school, drawing cartoons was his passion and they are cleverly interspersed in the story. He and his family are nonobservant Jews, and Karl even expresses anti-Semitic attitudes early in the book. But eventually politics and economics begin to overshadow everything in the boy’s life. Much of the art at the Stern Gallery has to be sold secretly since the Nazis have banned it as degenerate. Karl’s mother has periods of depression. As the entrenchment of Fascism grows, things become even more confusing. Karl admires Schmeling greatly, but becomes disillusioned by the boxer’s association with Hitler and high-ranking Nazis. The gallery is destroyed on Kristallnacht when roving bands of Nazis smash windows of businesses owned by Jews. Karl’s father is wounded and Karl and his sister run to a customer who risks a great deal to help them. Ultimately it is Schmeling who saves the two young Sterns and pays for their passage to America. This is an unusual story with well-drawn, complex characters, gripping history, and intense emotion.–Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ

Book Launch Event in Larchmont May 20th

Book Launch for The Berlin Boxing Club at the Voracious Reader in Larchmont
Friday, May 20th
6-7:15 PM

Local author Rob Sharenow launches what many are calling his “breakout book.” “The Berlin Boxing Club,”  a novel for teens, is a coming of age story about a young German in 1936 who learns to box from the legendaryMax Schmeling. It has strong crossover appeal for boys, girls and adults as well. Come for a reading, a boxing demonstration by LA Boxing and a raffle to win free boxing lessons! Event is for ages 12 and up

location: The Voracious Reader.  1997 Palmer Avenue, Larchmont, NY 10538

Contact: (914) 630-4581

Starred Review in Publishers Weekly!

As he did in My Mother the Cheerleader (2007), Sharenow delivers a masterful historical novel that examines racism through the eyes of both children and real historical figures. This story follows aspiring cartoonist Karl, a 14-year-old Jewish boy in 1930s Berlin who is on the receiving end of beatings from his Aryan classmates (Karl’s cartoons and comics appear throughout). His father’s friend, boxing champion Max Schmeling, agrees to train Karl as a boxer so that he can defend himself and his younger sister, Hildy. As the Nazi regime gains power and influence, it becomes clear that Germany will eventually not be safe for Karl and his family. Over the course of a few years, Karl craves the freedom of moving to America, falls in love with his Catholic neighbor, Greta, and meets a cross-dressing homosexual called the Countess, forcing Karl to confront his own prejudices. The assorted plot threads and immersion in the worlds of art and boxing make the novel a bit crowded, but Sharenow’s deft touch with his characters and his portrayal of turbulent prewar Berlin more than compensate. Ages 12–up.

A Starred Review in Kirkus for Berlin!

Editor Review (reviewed on April 1, 2011)
The historically freighted match between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling forms the backdrop for this compelling coming-of-age novel. Fourteen-year-old Karl Stern has never considered himself Jewish. His father is an atheist, his mother an agnostic. He grew up in a secular household, has no religious background and even has a religiously neutral name. But in 1934 Berlin, with the rise of the Nazis and the newly entitled bullies at school, Karl is Jewish. He gets beaten up and, eventually, expelled from school. Enter Max Schmeling, heavyweight champion of the world, who offers Karl boxing lessons in exchange for a portrait from Mr. Stern’s art gallery. Karl’s journey to manhood, from 1934 to 1938, is a rough one for a Jewish boy in Nazi Germany, but Sharenow weaves a colorful tale from the cultural context of the mid-1930s: the Holocaust, Kristallnacht, degenerate art, Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, Picasso and Matisse. Besides being an up-and-coming boxer, Karl is a cartoonist, and his cartoons and drawings add visual depth to the novel, effectively delineating Karl’s growing sense of himself and his purpose, inspired by his beloved Action Comics hero, Superman. A brief author’s note continues the story beyond 1938, relating the postwar friendship between Schmeling and Joe Louis. A fine one-two punch with the author’s previous powerful work, My Mother the Cheerleader (2007). (sources) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)