Did you enjoy the movie Atomic Blond? Are you fascinated by the complexities of the cold war and time travel? If you answered yes to either of these questions then you are going to want to read this book. This fantastic YA novel combines mystery, historical fiction, time-travel with dashes of magical realism and romance. You would think that might be too much for one novel but author Katherine Locke blends the genres with aplomb, creating an engaging and thought provoking book.
Teen protagonist Ellie randomly grabs a red balloon while on a class trip and travels back in time to 1988 Berlin. She is transported into a Germany with guards, guns, spies and walls built to separate people. Ellie and the young people she meets in 1988 join together to use science and magic to help people escape East Berlin using red balloons. How time travel and the red balloons work is a mystery to all, but Ellie and her companions are determined to figure it out so that they can return Ellie home. As they investigate, the bodies of failed red balloon time travelers start to accumulate adding an urgency to this already thrilling story. The story of Ellie’s grandfather’s escape from a Polish concentration camp in 1942 is interspersed throughout the book, eventually converging with Ellie’s.
This book is heavy but I loved reading it, especially learning about cold war, the holocaust and drawing parallels to what is happening in the world today. This timely story, written for older teens, is a “sensitive exploration of the long-lasting effects of war and subjugation.” It is a powerful and eminently readable book and from October 1-15 it will be always available in ebook format for OPL library members.
You can read The Girl with the Red Balloon during Library Big Read happening from October 1-15. It will be available for download from Overdrive for all Ottawa Public Library cardholders. Take advantage of this opportunity and enjoy a great YA novel from Overdrive and OPL this fall.