Book Review: The Girl with the Red Balloon, by Katherine Locke

Image belongs to AW Whitman.

For Ellie Baum, being in Berlin on a school trip is little unsettling:  she’s grown up listening to tales from her grandfather, who escaped from a death camp in 1942. She loves her grandfather, but his stories don’t always make sense. Like the ones of the balloons carrying people to safety. She’s heard his stories, she just doesn’t believe them. Until she catches the string of a red balloon, and ends up in East Berlin in 1988, before the Berlin Wall fell.

Stranded in the midst of an oppressive regime, Ellie meets Kai, one of the Runners who help balloon passengers escape over the wall. But no one knows what happened to Ellie’s balloon; they just know its real Passenger is dead. With the help of Kai and Mitzi, Ellie must unravel the mystery of her time travel if she’s ever to return to her own time. But someone want to use time travel to change history. And that person doesn’t care who has to die to do so.

At first, I wasn’t too sure about this book and Ellie herself, but I ended up really loving it. This is such a unique concept, and I’ve personally not read much—if anything—set in East Berlin while the Wall was still up. The tale of Ellie’s grandfather is just as enthralling as Ellie’s is, and Kai and Mitzi are so intriguing I wanted to know much more about them. A very compelling book, set in a bleak time in history.

The Girl with the Red Balloon is Katherine Locke’s first YA novel.

(Galley provided by AW Teen via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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