Harry Mazer

Harry Mazer
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 10
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.21

     challenging words:    resilient, nominee, gunner, winning, romance, bomber, robinson, self-esteem, literature, further, adolescence, trilogy, all-time, writing, diverse, knowing
     content words:    Harry Mazer, Because Mazer, New York City, New York, Robinson Crusoe, Bronx High School, Army Air Force Cadets, World War II, When Mazer, Only Mazer

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Harry Mazer
By Jamie Kee

1     Award winning author Harry Mazer is known for his books written for the young adult audience. He chooses topics that are relatable to this age group. Mazer's characters frequently tackle difficult situations, but they often gain something from the experience. Because Mazer regularly uses his own childhood experiences or situations he has witnessed, his books are believable and, therefore, attractive to young readers.
2     Mazer was born in 1925 in New York City, New York, and grew up in the Bronx. His parents were hard working Polish-Jewish immigrants. The family lived in a small apartment in a two-block complex called the Coops where Mazer shared the only bedroom with his brother. His parents slept in the room that served as the living room, dining room, and kitchen. As a young child, Mazer played in the halls and stairs of the complex and they served as his playground. As he got older, his playground extended to the park and streets.
3     As a child, Mazer often read books. Robinson Crusoe and Tarzan of the Apes were two of his all-time favorites. When he got older, Mazer was able to take an exam that allowed him to attend the Bronx High School of Science, but he soon discovered that English and history were the classes that most interested him. He often thought of his future during his high school years, especially knowing that jobs were limited and many employers during this time would not hire Jews. Mazer held a secret desire to be a writer, but he didn't know how to pursue this goal.
4     When Mazer was seventeen, he qualified to join the U.S. Army Air Force Cadets. Much to his dislike, he had to wait until he was eighteen to serve. Mazer recalls, "I prayed that the war wouldn't end before I got in." Eventually he was able to serve during World War II for two and a half years. He was an airplane mechanic and later a ball-turret and waist gunner. When Mazer was on the crew of a B-17 bomber and served his first mission, the plane was shot down. Only Mazer and one other crew member survived.
5     After Mazer was discharged from the army, he began attending Union College, where he later earned a BA and eventually an MA from Syracuse University. Although Mazer still had a secret desire to be a writer, he held other jobs such as a railroad brakeman, factory worker, and teacher. It was during this phase in his life that he met and later married Norma Fox, and eventually the two both admitted that they longed to be writers.

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