The Wrong Boy


How did I get it?:
I bought it!


Hanna is a talented pianist, and the protected second daughter of middle class Hungarian Jews. Relatively late in World War II the Budapest Jews were rounded up and sent to Auschwitz. Hanna and her mother and sister are separated from her father. Her mother becomes increasingly mentally ill until she too is taken away somewhere. Her sister Erika is slowly starving to death. Hanna is quite a naïve 15-year-old but when presented with the opportunity to play piano for the camp commander, she is desperate to be chosen. She goes each day under guard to the commander’s house and stands waiting in case the commander should want some music. Also living in the house is the commander’s son, Karl. A handsome young man who seems completely disengaged from what is happening around him. Hanna hates him as he sits drawing in the music room. But the longer Hanna goes to the house, the more she realizes there are other things going on. Secret things. Karl may not be the person she thinks he is. Before she knows it she has fallen in love with the wrong boy.


I’ve always had somewhat of an interest in the Second World War and especially the Holocaust. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like it’s around a lot more in young adult fiction. This is a good thing in my eyes! I feel in some way that The Wrong Boy has been lost in many 2014 releases. It should definitely be read more widely. It’s such a touching read. It’s not an easy read, of course it won’t be, but it’s one of the best fictional accounts of the Holocaust that I’ve read.

Given the title of this book, I really expected The Wrong Boy to be a romance set in the Second World War. There is romance involved in The Wrong Boy, but it’s certainly not in the forefront, so please don’t be put off, if you’re avoiding this book because of a potential romance! I found The Wrong Boy to be absolutely gripping and emotional.

The Wrong Boy is brutal with its presentation of the Holocaust. I really surprised when an author can still shock me with the way Jews were treated in the concentration camps. It sickens me. Suzy Zail’s writing just confirmed to me how much I despise the way Jews were treated and how much I hope nothing like the Holocaust happens again in the future. It’s so sad that it did happen.

The Wrong Boy does include fictional characters, yet they feel so real. Our protagonist Hanna, is an amazingly strong character. She cares for her mother and her sister after their father has been separated from them. Hanna goes through tough times, just like her family, but she never lets it get her down and is determined to provide for her family, even putting them before herself. I loved how selfless Hanna was. If she took a bit of food, it would be for her family. Every scrap of clothing, would be shared with her family. She was just so caring. Hanna plays the piano for the Commander in the camp, so she is somewhat treated ‘better’ than the rest of the camp. Hanna gets the opportunity to play piano for the camp’s Commander. She does so because she believes it will help her family to survive. I think this took great courage on Hanna’s part. Again, displaying her selflessness.

After I had finished the story (feeling incredibly moved) I learned that Suzy Zail’s father was a survivor of the Holocaust. With this knowledge, I can’t believe how hard it must have been for Suzy to write this book. Her writing is incredibly powerful, and knowing that part of that history is so close to her heart, makes even more of an impact on me. I obviously can’t comment on how accurate her portrayal was, but as Suzy believes if people are writing about it, then hopefully it will never be repeated again.

I’m so glad that I got to know about this book, because it is already one of my favourites of the year. I think it’s incredibly emotional, but an important read. I think anyone with an interest in the Holocaust would devour this well-written, touching book.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

8 thoughts on “The Wrong Boy

  1. I’ve always been interested in reading fiction set in the WWII time frame, but never really pushed myself to do so out of — perhaps a reluctance because it’d be an overwhelming topic, but you’ve started to convince me otherwise, and to consider reading this in the future. Great review!

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