Nothing Sung and Nothing Spoken

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Modern Age

Nothing Sung and Nothing Spoken
Author: Tyndall, Nita
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Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 1938-1945
Geographic Area: Europe
Country: Germany
Topics: World War II, LGBTQ+
Genre: Fiction
Reading Age: Young Adult, Adult
Format: Novel
Published: 2022

World History > Modern Age > WWII > LGBTQ+

“A heartbreaking and bittersweet novel about the need for queer joy even in the midst of the horrors of war. The ending had me in tears.”—Malinda Lo, New York Times bestselling and National Book Award–winning author of Last Night at the Telegraph Club.

For fans of Ruta Sepetys and Malinda Lo, a heart-wrenching queer historical YA romance set in the Swing Youth movement of World War II Berlin

Charlotte Kraus would follow Angelika Haas anywhere. This is how she finds herself in an underground club one Friday night the summer before World War II, dancing to contraband American jazz and swing music, suddenly feeling that anything might be possible.

Unable to resist the allure of sharing this secret with Geli, Charlie returns to the club again and again, despite the dangers of breaking the Nazi Party’s rules. Soon, terrified by the tightening vise of Hitler’s power, Charlie and the other Swingjugend are drawn to larger and larger acts of rebellion. But the war will test how much they are willing to risk—and to lose.

From the critically acclaimed author of Who I Was with Her, this beautifully told story of hope, love, and resistance will captivate readers of Girl in the Blue Coat and Last Night at the Telegraph Club.

Emily's Review

This book is a bit difficult to review, because while the writing was good and I loved the relationships, the historical part left something to be desired. I went back and forth on my rating, and I think I'm going to settle at a 3.5 stars.

What I loved about the story were the relationships. Charlie and Geli's relationship is set up as them being best friends. And in the 1938 portion of the story they are - they spend quite a lot of time together and are very close. Geli is the one that introduces Charlie to the jazz scene. This is where the book shines really. I loved everything about the dances and resistance. I think that is probably the most important aspect of this story. Not all resistance has to be violent or big. Sometimes it's listening to music, going to forbidden dances, sharing leaflets against the party, falling in love. All of those things are resisting and I think it's important for kids to see that. If you can't do something big, you can at least do something small.

Something else I thought was interesting was the fact that Charlie and her sister both really enjoy their time in the BDM (Hitler Youth for girls) and it shows how easily so many kids were indoctrinated into this belief system. Attendance in these groups was mandatory, and you could be fined or put in jail if your children didn't attend. Charlie and her friends start to dislike it as they get older, but in the beginning, it was fun going on hikes, sewing, and hanging out with her friends. As the war begins, you see some of the characters falling under the influence of Nazism, and the danger that puts their families in.

What I didn't love about this book is the sort of nonchalance it took with the horrors of Nazi Germany. Charlie and Geli have a friend Minna who is Jewish - and at one point in the story her family leaves for Paris and we never find out what happened to them. There are mentions of bad things happening, but it's all in the periphery of the story. There's even a reference to Kristallnacht, but it's barely a blip because Geli can't understand why Minna can't just go to the next dance with them. It felt a little bit superficial and I understand that teens can sometimes be self-centered, but I feel like the author could have done more here.

Overall, this was a book that didn't quite live up to its potential, but I'd be interested in reading more of the author's work, as the writing was beautiful.

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