The Girl With The Red Balloon
Author: Katherine Locke
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Albert Whitman Company
Release Date: September 1, 2017
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
The Girl with the Red Balloon quickly became one of my favorites of the year. Yes, there are so many things in here that are painful to read, several that made me cry, many that brought hope and a better understanding of Berlin, The Holocaust, and everything that can be too difficult to read but must be read pertaining to that time and the years after.
This novel was so well written and was made even more memorable as I became emotionally invested with all the characters that filled the pages. Kai is the brooding guy (for good reason) who loves with a passion, knowing that every single moment is precious and every minute could be his last. There was Ellie who learned and grew so much more after having traveling back into that time, the hardest thing she’s ever had to do.
If those two leading characters weren’t enough to make this novel a fave, there is also Mitzi who is the toughest person they could have fighting by their side, as well as Kai’s sister Sabina who is very important to the future of those within these pages. None of them have an easy life, far from it, but they stay strong because they have each other and the hope that magic will change things, hopefully for the better for many.
That’s where the red balloons come in and everything they meant to the story. Magic exists in this universe, where there is more hope than ever imaginable. It’s how Ellie finds herself in the past, going through the fears and worries that many had to endure and painfully leave that world with. This isn’t a fairy-tale story though, of salvation and peace, it is only partial truths and that was intensely painful to read, but it left me feeling more blessed and thankful for what I have now.
Even with several of those pages that I couldn’t find solace within, even with the heartbreaking recounting of Benno’s (another important character to the story) life, throughout those harrowing years of his existence, I appreciated everything that was said and shown. Something like this should never be forgotten, their hardships, their lives, it should be remembered, so that we as a whole never allow something as gruesomely brutal to happen again in any lifetime.
This novel makes you have all feels possible, of love, sadness, of joy, and wonder, of hope, and so many more. Magic though, as distressing as this book could be, gave it that enchanting vibe that allowed hope that should have been, a way to be free from such an appalling way of life that should never have happened. Even though there wasn’t many happily ever afters at the end of this world, it was more truthful and full of meaningful moments. I’m left with much more appreciation for it than if it had been left perfectly wrapped with a pretty bow on top. I’m absolutely adding a copy to my shelves.
***I received this copy from Albert Whitman Company via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.***