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Book Review-Gentlehands

1) What did you notice?

The story Gentlehands takes place in the late 1970’s. This story mostly revolves around one of the main characters named Buddy, who is a middle classed teenager that has is having a relationship with and upper class, older girl, named Skye. Buddy’s chances of impressing Skye on his own are very slim to none so he decides to introduce her to his grandfather, Mr. Trenker. Buddy has not seen his grandfather since he was just a little child because of disputes between Buddy’s parents and Mr.Trenker, so he was not quite sure what to expect from him. Buddy and Skye both come to realize the Mr. Trenker is very educated in many topics and also extremely well mannered. During this same time Mr. De Lucca, a reporter for many newspapers, is living with Skye at the time for unknown reasons. The only reason he is staying in that area is because he is trying to write a story about somebody who used to be a SS officer in WWII with the nickname Gentlehands. At the end of the story grandpa Trenker is the one that is believed to be Gentlehands. When Grandpa Trenker heard of these accusations he ran away to live with a friend of his.

In the story Gentlehands there were a few major characters, including Skye, Buddy, and Grandpa Trenker. Buddy is presented ass a teenager who had few experiences in life and he showed it many times throughout the book. An example of Buddy having only few experiences in life is on page 80, paragraph 7 when buddy was pouring a glass of wine. It said “I put my hand around the bottle and began pouring, and he said, ‘Wait a minute, Buddy.’ ‘What?’ ‘Always grab the bottle of wine by the neck,’ he said, ‘and never fill the glass to the top.” I think that this is a good example because it shows how buddy had very few experiences in life by not knowing how to pour wine. I also thought that he was extremely kind hearted and he also sticks to what he believes in, even though there are overwhelming facts that are against him, which he showed at the end of the book. Grandpa Trenker seemed like a very pleasant person to be with, but as the book goes on it seems like he was only polite because all he wanted to do was make up what he had done in the Holocaust by killing a young girl by ordering a dog to kill her. Skye was also a teenager and seemed to think she knows what is always right for her. She was somebody who knew how someone felt even without them showing it, examples of this are on page 162 last paragraph when Skye says “and I’m telling you right now that I’m going anywhere I feel like going,” She also showed examples of being very giving throughout the story an example of this is when she bough Buddy a blue cashmere sweater.

The book title was very significant in relation to the story. Gentlehands was a poem that a girl in the Holocaust wrote before she died. This is what she wrote:

“I can see your beauty

But you can see mine,

And you have a gun.

The only Music I hear

Is what you play for me.

It is beautiful, too,

But it dose not speak

To you about me.

You listen and Smile.

I wait to die,

And call you Gentlehands.”

In the poem Gentlehands was the SS officer who was the one that killed her. And close to the end of the book you find out that Gentlehands was Grandpa Trenker. I think that a major theme in the story was appearance versus reality. I think that Grandpa Trenker’s appearance was totally different than the reality. He seemed very well mannered, courteous, respectful and also very polite. However he was just acting like that just because he was trying to makeup for what he had done in the past.

2) What do you question?

There are many things that I question about Buddy’s behavior. One thing, which I think Buddy could have done differently, was tell his parents he went to his grandfathers instead of lying to them. Another thing that he has done quite a few times in the story which I feel he could have done differently was once again not lie to his parents, but this time about going over to Skye’s house. I think that if he had been completely honest to his parents then they wouldn’t feel so much bitterness to her as they did. The only reason that they felt that way about her is because she is from an upper class family.

There is one poem in the book on page 152 that I did not completely understand. It said:

“If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you

But make allowance for their doubting to;

If you can wait and not be tired from waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look to good, nor talk to wise…”

But my interpretation of it was if you can do what the poem says then you are a man.

There is one thing in the book I do not think was too realistic. It was how everything connected way too perfectly. First, there was Mr. De Lucca living with Skye at the time even though nobody knew why. Second, Skye was going out with Buddy. Third, Buddy’s Grandfather was Gentlehands. Four, Mr. De Lucca exposed Grandpa Trenker A.K.A. Gentlehands. Since M.E. Kerr was alive during World War Two maybe that is why she felt she should write a story in it.

3) What do you relate to?

There were a few things in this story that I have learned about the Holocaust. The first major thing that I have learned is how much young people are influenced by what adults say. The example of this in the story is that Buddy’s little brother wasn’t even sure what a Nazi was, but he thought that all Germans were Nazis. When he found out that someone on the next street to him was German, he was breaking all of her windows because of that. I think that the reason you see so many young people in wars and other things people fight for is because in some ways they are unintelligent and very naive. When the person gets older and can think for him or herself they soon realize how stupid their actions were like Grandpa Trenker who was very young when he was an SS guard. Grandpa Trenker’s life was very tragic because he was brainwashed at a young age the punished at an older age for what he learnt was right. Grandpa Trenker’s past as an SS officer affected his family because the felt embarrassed and ashamed of him and they did not want their name to be published in the report made by Mr. De Lucca.

4) What do you feel

This book annoyed me a slight bit because of its ending. I think that there were two problems with the ending. The first problem was about the climax. The climax of the story was when Grandpa Trenker was accused of being an SS officer. I feel the climax was so close to the end and it ended so quickly after the climax. The second problem I had was the actual ending of the book. I did not like how it ended because I would have preferred it to be a little bit more of a more contented ending. I do not feel differently about the Holocaust, but I feel differently about the Nazis who were in it. If we try to look at it in their perspective maybe we would have done something similar or the same if we also had been young during this time. I think this because as it was proved before if you are told to be the more superior one then you will feel you are the more superior one. When some of the surviving Nazis got older, they have realized what they had done and I think that is enough of a burden to carry on their shoulders because I do not think that you should be getting in trouble for getting brainwashed. I would like to find out what happened to the actual Nazi survivors in the Holocaust not just the Holocaust survivors. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy reading fiction books about the Holocaust. I also would recommend this book to somebody who is mature for this subject because at the end it gets quite emotional. Someone who wants to hear what happens to a Nazi survivor from his or her perspective should also read this book.


Bibliography: Kerr, M.E. Gentlehands, New York,

United States: First Harper Keypoint,


Word Count: 1508


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