Sentence of Death Denied


The specter of the Holocaust is raised as a young teenage boy must confront his memories of a Nazi concentration camp. For him, it is a matter of life or death.

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In 1950, ninth-grader Joe Kaufmann stumbles into a torrid, one-sided affair with band classmate Alyssa Broderick at Boynton Junior High School in Ithaca, New York. This seemingly sweet, fresh-faced hussy seduces Joe. He naively falls in love with her and is blind to her cruel manipulation.

Joe’s turbulent school year continues when in November, three students attack him when he refuses to cheat for them on a geometry test. Although he recovers physically from this brutal assault, his emotional state remains in tatters. Only after Christmas does he seem to get back on track. However, in April, he mysteriously disappears, and his family is panic-stricken to find him. When he is found eight days later, he is committed to a psychiatric hospital to treat his inexplicable amnesia.

The psychiatrist, Dr. Montgomery, delves into Joe’s memories of his childhood experiences at a Nazi concentration camp. Joe slides into depression and anorexia. He wants to commit suicide by starvation. With his guardian, Grayson Pierce, at his side, Joe is admitted to the Albany hospital, where the only goal is keeping him alive. Dr. Montgomery joins Grayson in trying to save Joe from himself. Assuming his memories had triggered his amnesia and flight from reality, Grayson and the psychiatrist hold onto Joe to keep him from joining the pitiful Holocaust victims who had died so many years ago.

When Joe mentions that he had been struck by an unknown student in the school cafeteria, giving him a concussion, the real cause for his flight from home and his amnesia are unveiled. And he learns bitterly that his toxic relationship with Alyssa Broderick had started all of this. Her bigoted, anti-Semitic views are uncloaked. Will he be able to step over this ugly episode and move on?

1 review for Sentence of Death Denied

  1. Ekezie1998

    Following is an official review of “Sentence of Death Denied” by Anita Tiemeyer.

    Do we often ignore a terrible experience or face it boldly? A person’s past often may leave a permanent scar, but the most important fact is how the whole situation is handled. Joe, despite his mental baggage, is eager to fulfill his goals, but he soon discovers that reality may sometimes hit hard.

    Sentence of Death Denied by Anita Tiemeyer is a coming-of-age novel that tells the story of young Joe [Kaufmann], a bright and talented child with dreams and aspirations. But with his traumatic past and the difficulties that stand in his way, can Joe succeed, or will he be pulled under the tides? How will his life change after another family takes him in? Find out in this amazing piece of historical fiction.

    I found several positive aspects in this book. Firstly, I would like to note that there were only a few errors discovered in this book. This goes to show that it was professionally edited. Another important aspect is the use of historical references, which clearly show proof of proper research on the writer’s part. The writer makes use of elaborate themes to indulge readers. My personal favorite is the conflict of religion which runs throughout the book.

    Joe discovers that his society has prejudice towards the Jewish religion, and this notion results from their supposed belief in the Christian faith. But like Joe, we are encouraged to remain steadfast in any religion or faith that we commit to. A deep insight is given into religion, and I feel that the author relayed a point to ponder on.

    Another beautiful aspect that I noticed in this book is the notion of sexuality amongst children and teenagers. Joe discarded the teachings and warnings of his staunch Catholic family to pursue a relationship with Alyssa. Though it did not end positively, he learned a lot from his failed relationship. Likewise, youths should be taught and educated on the giant spectrum that is sexuality. They should not be encouraged to be sexually active, but they should know the dos and don’ts required. This is a topic that many books fail to point out, but I feel that the author was able to leave a sufficiently positive impact.

    I am happy to note that I did not find any negative aspects in this book, except the mentioned minor errors. The book had a delicate tone and well-rounded characters with perfectly expressed emotions. As a result of the above-stated reasons, I rate this book four out of four stars. I was impressed with the author’s use of an extensive vocabulary to spread the message contained in this book. I recommend this book to everyone interested in historical fiction and those insistent on persevering through adversity.

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