I’ve been anticipating this illustrated juvenile biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer for over a year! The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix is a work of art. Hendrix challenges readers in their own view of responsibility, the church, and “the other.”
I was super blessed to get to meet John Hendrix this past weekend at Hutchmoot… AND he was gracious enough to sign a copy of The Faithful Spy which you can enter to win at the end of this post!
Up until now, John Hendrix has primarily worked as an illustrator, but the writing is solid and even beautiful in places.
Who Was Dietrich Bonhoeffer?
I’ve been fascinated by Bonhoeffer ever since I read his biography by Erik Metaxas. (Which, let’s face it, I’d have never made it through without the audiobook.)
Bonhoeffer, a German theologian, lived in Nazi Germany during World War Two. Hendrix details how Bonhoeffer’s experiences abroad and his theological questions spur him to action on behalf of his beloved Germany and “the other.” Bonhoeffer’s view of the church plays a central roll in his story. His deep convictions caused him to join the Nazi government as a double agent. As a member of the Abwehr, he helped Jews escape the country and plotted to kill Hitler.
What I Loved About The Faithful Spy
- Art–I’ve always loved Hendrix’s art. Each word of this book is hand lettered. (Some are very tiny for adults, but most kids shouldn’t have a problem reading it). Hendrix masterfully uses color to set mood and indicate the two opposing forces. Blue stands for Bonhoeffer and good. Red represents for Hitler and evil.
- Connection–Hendrix challenges his readers to think about their own treatment of “the other” in their lives.
- Inspiration–Certain sections of this book were so beautiful they gave me chills–particularly the ending.
- Accessibility–The format of this book makes it appealing to visually oriented kids who might not otherwise have the patience to read a biography of this length.
What Parents Should Know
The Faithful Spy tends more toward illustrated biography than graphic novel. Because of this, the text in places is dense and best suited for ages ten and older. Bonhoeffer’s story takes place during the same time as the Holocaust. Though Bonhoeffer’s actions were partially motivated by Hitler’s treatment of the Jews and other groups, the book does not detail the atrocities of this period. Hendrix explains that he limited himself to what Bonhoeffer encountered. This helps keep the text age appropriate.