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Reviewed by Stacie Haas for Readers' Favorite
Seeds of Hate by Robyn Walters and Peyton Abbott follows the path of attorney Patrick Kane as he seeks to defend Wilhelm Kastner, former German World War II soldier turned elementary school teacher, as he is accused of sexual misconduct by female students in his fourth-grade class. Kane struggles to defend Kastner at trial by convincing the jury—one hugely influenced by the public outcry against Wilhelm and his family—of Wilhelm’s innocence. He does this as he learns about Wilhelm’s past—his family life in Germany with a distant and often hostile father, his coming of age during the reign of Adolf Hitler and the hate he was indoctrinated with as a young soldier, and how he made his way to a new life in the United States. Through the retelling of Wilhelm’s life story, Patrick is convinced of the man’s innocence, but knows he cannot share much of what he learns because of lingering bias against his defendant’s time as a Nazi soldier.
Seeds of Hate is an intricate novel that has incredible range told from the viewpoint of an observer—Kane—into the life of the man he is making immense personal sacrifices to defend. Wilhelm is a fascinating character who is determined to overcome the hate, mistreatment, and violence of his youth through positive actions and love. He does this at great peril as his actions are taken advantage of and threaten the livelihood he’s fought so hard and so long to maintain. Walter and Abbott’s novel takes the reader to unexpected places—German orphanages, Russian war camps, and perhaps the greatest battlefield of Wilhelm’s life: the courtroom. Indeed, it’s in the intriguing look into his criminal trial that this book has its finest moment. There is a great deal to like about Seeds of Hate, primarily the uplifting spirit of one man who had every reason to turn bitter, and the other who was determined to defend him the way he deserved.