Published by Albert Whitman and Company
Publication Date: September 1st 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Historical
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When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.
There is a group of people on book twitter that have made me so excited to read The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke for months. They have been hyping the hell out of this book and unfortunately, money has been tight so I haven’t been able to read it. Katherine tweeted out that the Kindle book went on sale for $1.99 and I couldn’t purchase it fast enough. I had some other reading obligations to do first but now I can proudly say I FINALLY READ THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON!! And omg, it was just as amazing as book twitter said it would be. I loved it!!
Ellie’s grandfather is a German Holocaust survivor and in an attempt to better understand what all her Saba went through, she takes up German in school and goes on a field trip to Berlin where he was originally from before being shipped out because of his faith. What Ellie doesn’t realize is that a single red balloon has the power to transport her back to 1988 East Berlin, the year before the wall came down. It’s a race against time to figure out how to get her back to the present day. The people she meets and the journey they go through teaches Ellie more than she’d ever be able to get from a history book.
The concept for this book was not only a super interesting plot, it was delivered so strongly that I believed it all to be true. The concept of magic balloons being able to take East Berliners over to safety was genius and so creative. Some people are probably worried that this would detract from the appalling and trying time period but I can assure you it does not. You can absolutely tell Locke did her research when it came to this time in East Berlin and to World War II that appears in the Benno (Ellie’s grandfather) chapters. Trust me, you will feel the emotion seeping off the page. At its core, The Girl with the Red Balloon is very much historical as it is a story about hope and perseverance and overcoming obstacles that don’t seem like they really can be overcome.
I mean really, this book is 10/10 good. I love the diversity of the cast, the bonds between them, and the story telling. There were pitfalls and desperation and encouragement and defeat and determination. Just everything you could hope for in a book set during this time period. I can 100% assure you I will be reading this again. Here I am a week later and already wanting to pick it up and start all over again. It’s fantastic, folks. Fantastic.
It’s everything you could want in a book about magic balloons, being stranded in the past. and being historically accurate all at the same time. One of those “read it and thank me later” books!