The Faithful Spy is an illustrated biography of Dietrich Bonhopeffer for young readers. It is presented in graphic novel format with the illustrations and design work limited to a palate of aqua and red ink. I found this a compelling account of Bonhoeffer’s life and the events of history leading up to, and including, the second world war.
One of the strengths of this book is the way Hendrix weaves in the words of Bonhoeffer and other historical characters. He explains at the start of the book what where his text is accompanied by an asterix, this indicates that the words are direct quotes from the persons involved. I really appreciated this aspect of the book as I felt it gave true voice to the characters and allows readers a genuine sense of time and place.
Apart from these frequent direct quotes, Hendrix admits to taking a storytellers approach in his account of Bonhoeffer’s life in a Germany under Hitler’s rule. Although he includes many of the key moments, he admits (in the authors note) that other significant events have been left out. These choices, however, allow for Bonhoeffer’s faith journey and responses to various ethical dilemmas to take centre stage. Also leaning into a storytelling rather than historical document bent, Hendrix is not shy to call a wolf a wolf in this account. The use of language to explain Hitler’s lust for power and fanaticism leaves no room for accidental misinterpretation of who the goodies and baddies are in this story.
Suited to mature readers in upper primary school and above, this account of Bonhoeffer’s life and involvement in various plots to kill Hitler is a gripping read. It’s a good introduction to one of Christianity’s significant influencers, and explains the complexity of the German situation leading up to the second world war. What I loved most, however, was the way this book places Bonhoeffer’s faith at the forefront and in doing so naturally challenges readers to consider how their own faith might impact how they choose to live; with faithfulness, integrity and courage to stand true to what they believe. Recommended.
All the details you need:
Title: The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the plot to kill Hitler.
Written by: John Hendrix
Publisher: Amulet Books
Available from The Wandering Bookseller.
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