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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Photo-illustrated nonfiction, the story of the Edelweiss Pirates, a group of working-class teens who not only survived but resisted the Nazis by whatever means they could, even when they knew it could cost them their lives. Flowers in the Gutter is told from the points of view Gertrude, Fritz, and Jean, three young people from working-class neighborhoods in Cologne, beginning with their pre-school years at the dawn of the Third Reich in the 1930s. Gaddy shows how political activism was always a part of their lives and how they witnessed first-hand the toll it took on their parents--and how they still carried the torch for justice when it was their turn. Once the war began, Gertrude, Fritz, and Jean and their friends survived and even resisted in one of the most heavily bombed cities in Germany. Gaddy includes tense accounts of fights with Hitler Youth and the Gestapo, of disseminating anti-Nazi pamphlets, of helping POWs and forced laborers, and even of sabotaging Nazi factorie…

Flowers In The Gutter

by K.R. Gaddy

Overall Book Review:

Flowers in the Gutter: The True Story of The Teenagers Who Resisted the Nazis follows three teens in their fight against evil. The debut work of author K. R. Gaddy, this fascinating nonfiction includes lots of photographs, memos, and newspaper articles from the time period. Gaddy provides a cache of well-researched information about this little-known resistance group. Mucki, Jean, and Fritz — the three interviewed for the book –have riveting and inspiring experiences. Each of the seven parts of the book feature a summary of what was happening in Germany to provide adequate context. A multitude of people are mentioned throughout these pages and Gaddy tries to make things less confusing by including a ‘Persons of Interest’ list of names. Flowers in the Gutter provides readers with an in-depth look at youth resistance during World War II and shows just how brave teenagers can be. 

Review of an Advance Reading Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Dutton

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  1 religious exclamation; 1 mild obscenity; 1 religious profanity; 5 derogatory names; 16 scatological words; 4 anatomical terms; 1 F-word derivative. 

Violence/Gore:  Several implied occurrences of violence include seeing swollen, bruised faces and other signs of torture on bodies. Multiple verbal threats are made by the Nazis, as well as threatening song lyrics are sung. Frequent second hand reports of violence occur including bombings, attempted bombings and injuries from bombings, a shoot-out with the Nazis, armed clashes and street fights, attempted escape where captive is killed, recall seeing Jewish and other political prisoners and civilians beaten and murdered for their beliefs, reports from concentration and forced labor camps, reports of sabotage, torture and hangings. An incident of non-life-threatening injuries during a street clash; frequent brief incidents of violence involving beatings, whippings, kicking, hitting and punching of teenagers by the Gestapo and Hitler Youth, as well as smashing heads into walls. There are several incidents of destruction of property by the Nazis and by bombings. Report of human skin being used for a lampshade. A few non-detailed scenes of violent death include a Nazi shot while riding a bicycle and bombings. A brief detail of blood and gore, including a black and white photograph of a blood-stained bed is included in the book. A few brief incidents of intense violence include hangings, detailed torture and the physical outcomes during interrogations; as well as mangled bodies in the street and being loaded onto a truck. An extended scene (more than a page) includes details of intense violence during a public hanging. 

Sex/Nudity:  An incident of kissing; prisoners are made to remove their clothes during a brief incident of non-sexual depiction of nudity; a brief incident of seeing two people touching each other in areas normally covered by a bathing suit; teen girls have a mature discussion regarding sex. 

Mature Subject Matter:

World War II, death of family members and friends, interrogations, sabotage including destruction of property and distributing anti-war fliers, Nazis, Hitler Youth, Kristallnacht, bombings, round-up and arrests, POWs, concentration camps, forced labor camps, Communism, Socialism, diseases including typhoid fever and lice, stealing, propaganda, pranks, anti-Jewish songs, black market, jail break, assassination attempt on Hitler’s life, reports of suicide and thoughts of suicide, fleeing home, army draft, orphanage, mention of homosexuality, puberty and periods, stereotypes of Native Americans.

Photographs are included in this book that show people about to be hanged and bloody bedspreads. 

Alcohol / Drug Use:

A scene takes place in a bar; people drink beer, including one scene where people drink from a keg at a party.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My mother was the one who sparked my love of books. Long before school instruction, she sat me down and taught me to read. My childhood was filled with trips to the library and bookmobile to find great books. My first loves were The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lingren. Now as a mom and speech pathologist, I am constantly looking for good, clean books to use at home and in therapy. I enjoy reading many different genres, but my favorites are usually historical fiction. I married my best friend, the “boy next door”, and we have a beautiful little girl who we often find sprawled out on the floor, flipping through picture books. Together our family likes to swim, run and play tennis. Besides reading, I also love to bake, garden and travel.