The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

The Girl with the Red Balloon

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 u...

Title:The Girl with the Red Balloon
Author:
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Girl with the Red Balloon Reviews

  • Ava

    Four stars, maybe more.

    Wow.

    It's the next day now (I finished this at 11 last night) and I'm still shocked by how much I enjoyed this book.

    Do you like:

    -Jewish main characters

    -multiple points of view

    -time travelling stories

    -diversity (Jewish mc, Romani mc, queer mc)

    -historical fiction

    -learning more about the Holocaust and the Berlin Wall

    ?

    Then you'll love this book. I most definitely did.

    My very small quibbles:

    -I wasn't a *huge* fan of the writing style. By the middle of the book, I was used to

    Four stars, maybe more.

    Wow.

    It's the next day now (I finished this at 11 last night) and I'm still shocked by how much I enjoyed this book.

    Do you like:

    -Jewish main characters

    -multiple points of view

    -time travelling stories

    -diversity (Jewish mc, Romani mc, queer mc)

    -historical fiction

    -learning more about the Holocaust and the Berlin Wall

    ?

    Then you'll love this book. I most definitely did.

    My very small quibbles:

    -I wasn't a *huge* fan of the writing style. By the middle of the book, I was used to it, but it was nothing outstanding in my opinion.

    -It took me a bit to get into the book. I was thoroughly engrossed after a while, but at the beginning, I was a little confused.

    Other than that, I really enjoyed it, and would highly, highly recommend you check it out when it releases. Katherine Locke has written a masterpiece that is especially timely right now, and will do a lot for so many people. The characters and story will stick with you long after you finish. I'd never read a YA about the Berlin Wall or even set in that time period before, and I am so happy this book exists.

    Review in more detail to come soon.

    (Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a copy for review.)

  • Katherine Locke

    I wrote this thing. It'll be on your shelves and available September 1, 2017!

    (edited on 6/22/17 because it still said spring lol)

  • Candace Robinson

    What a magical book! Love how everything comes full circle and connects! Plus time traveling intertwined with magic! And that ending!!! *Hyperventilates* Full review on my blog

  • Cam (abookeater)

    "All the facts in history books couldn’t prepare someone for standing in a place where history was present tense".

    It's going to be easier for me to just jot down what I loved about this book that try and elaborate an essay so here we go:

    This book definitely falls on the heavier, darker side of YA. In a way, that makes it even more relevant and important to the times we ourselves are facing. The topics mention

    "All the facts in history books couldn’t prepare someone for standing in a place where history was present tense".

    It's going to be easier for me to just jot down what I loved about this book that try and elaborate an essay so here we go:

    This book definitely falls on the heavier, darker side of YA. In a way, that makes it even more relevant and important to the times we ourselves are facing. The topics mentioned are not easy to digest; there is racism, talk of the Holocaust, death on page, genocide, the anxiety of war and totalitarian regimes, antisemitism, etc...But what this books does right? It gives in-depth conversations on these topics and calls out problematic trains of thought on page. There is also no attempt to romanticize any of these gruesome events. It’s just the gritty and the terrible, told in a way anyone can digest and empathize.

    Even though it is pretty dark, we do get the fantastic element and plenty of magic mixed with some science fiction. You would think that would confuse you more but it actually makes the story even more complete and interesting. It was whimsical and terrifying all at once; the perfect magic system.

    The book is narrated in three different points of view. We have Ellie’s perspective, Kai’s perspective and Benno’s perspective. This narrative strategy can go so wrong in so many ways but Katherine Locke has it down to a T. Each of these characters voices is easily distinguishable and all of them are equally enjoyable. I never felt myself wanting to skip someone’s part because I wanted to read about all their stories. I would have loved to have read Mitzi’s PoV but I’m guessing we might get that in the next installment!

    A diverse cast you can’t help but love. Kai is a Romani boy from England, fleeing his community in order to keep his powerful little sister safe; his friends are everything to him and his heart is full with purpose and promises he must keep. Ellie is a Jewish-American, grand-daughter of a Holocaust survivor; a girl who feels too much but stands up firmly for what she believes in. Mitzi is German and lesbian living in a place in time where being gay is excuse enough to have her arrested; she’s bright and unapologetically her, no matter the consequences. They’re a trio you’ll never forget, I promise.

    The romance. I don’t normally enjoy romance in YA as much as I would like to. I find the tropes repetitive and unrelated to the actual story. Sometimes it can take way too much time away from the plot and I end up feeling more irked than giddy. This isn’t the case for Kai and Ellie. I am the captain of this ship and I will sail it proudly until the end of time. If you must know one thing about me, it's that I am a huge sucker for low burn romances and angst. Kai is broody (which is pretty trope-y, sure) but he’s also incredibly loyal, selfless and kind; Ellie is strong and brave in her soft way. Together...they wrecked me. The chemistry between them is undeniable and beautiful. They both want what’s best for each other and even in the difficult times they’re living, they know the value of trust and communication. Above all, they’re friends to each other; seeing them falling in love felt like falling in love.

    The writing is phenomenal; there are countless passages that make you stop and think and make your heart break. It's not overly descriptive but there is a lot of internal monologues. Usually that would annoy me but the way everything is narrated is so beautiful. I read this book with a constant ache in my chest. My ARC is thoroughly highlighted and once I get hands on a physical copy I’ll make sure to annotate it even more.

  • Kate

    Guys, do yourselves a favour; either go and request this book on NetGalley, or take note of when it is released (or do both, like I am) because it is seriously one of the most beautiful, magical, heartbreaking stories I've read. It made me cry on numerous occasions.

    This review is going to be all over the place because my emotions are all over the place. The ending is so perfect, but so sad and it just...gah. I'm crying again.

    Guys, do yourselves a favour; either go and request this book on NetGalley, or take note of when it is released (or do both, like I am) because it is seriously one of the most beautiful, magical, heartbreaking stories I've read. It made me cry on numerous occasions.

    This review is going to be all over the place because my emotions are all over the place. The ending is so perfect, but so sad and it just...gah. I'm crying again.

    If I had to describe The Girl With the Red Balloon in one word, it would be

    . Ellie Baum's grandfather is a Jewish World War II survivor, and Ellie has grown up being told the story of how he escaped a death camp; that a girl in a purple dress handed him a red balloon, and it took him out. So when she is in Germany on a school trip, and she sees a red balloon, she grabs it, wanting her picture taken with it. She is transported back in time, in East Germany where red balloons are able to take people over the Berlin Wall, to safety.

    The love and relationships in this book are incredible. Apart from Ellie, we have Kai, a Romani boy who would do anything to protect his little sister, and who helps to transport people over the Berlin Wall. We also have Mitzi, a German girl with a family who can never accept her sexuality, partner to Kai in helping those in need of escape. They both fall in love with Ellie, in very different ways.

    I could share endless amounts of quotes from this book, but I won't spoil things for you. I will, however, leave these two with you, and urge you to keep a lookout for this book.

    *Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me the chance to read this book*

  • MsArdychan

    Please Note: I received an advance reader's copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

    East Berlin in the 1980's was a seriously messed up society. One could look out their window and see the freedoms of the West, yet their city was on lock-down. Neighbors were rewarded for spying on each other, and the Stasi (secret police) bugged people's homes. I visited a country behind the Iron Curtain in the 80's, and it wa

    Please Note: I received an advance reader's copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

    East Berlin in the 1980's was a seriously messed up society. One could look out their window and see the freedoms of the West, yet their city was on lock-down. Neighbors were rewarded for spying on each other, and the Stasi (secret police) bugged people's homes. I visited a country behind the Iron Curtain in the 80's, and it was bizarre. I remember entering stores where the shelves were bare. Waiters would whisper in our ears and ask us if we wanted to sell our western clothes. I think the author captured the bleakness and desperation of the city, and the resilience of it's people perfectly.

    Story:

    Who wouldn't want to escape an oppressive regime simply by holding a bright red balloon? The symbolism of invisibility was powerful. So many people did small, brave deeds during the Soviet era: broadcasting banned news and music, helping others hide and escape, NOT turning in their neighbors. The quiet defiance of people faced with the impossible was on display in this story.

    I also enjoyed the secret society of people using magic to smuggle others out to The West. The use of the disused subway system as the group's headquarters was a eerie touch.

    I particularly liked the ongoing threat of discovery by the police. As an American who only speaks a little German, Ellie is in constant danger. She needs to find a way to blend in to, not only a different political reality, but also to another time. It made for a tense game of cat and mouse whenever Ellie was out in public. What if someone speaks to her? Will she be able to pass for a Berliner?

    Ellie:

    Ellie has a resiliency to be admired. While she does have a tough time accepting her new situation, she quickly realizes that a key component of her survival is perfecting her German. What a way to be motivated towards fluency! I appreciated that Ellie didn't act spoiled or self-important. She grew to empathize with her new friends and see their struggles as her own.

    What I Was Mixed About:

    Although I enjoyed the secret society, I didn't feel that this was explained enough in the novel. I would have liked to have more background information, and more character development of the people who founded the group. I'm sure the author thought this would bog down the story, but I think it would have added more to the story, and even presented some openings for a sequel!

    What I Didn't Like:

    I thought that the resolution of what happens to the bad guy was very rushed, and a little convenient for the story. I would have liked to know more about this person and why they did what they did.

    I also didn't find the ending very satisfying. I don't like putting in spoilers, but the ending was very abrupt. I needed to know what actually happens to Ellie!!! I was surprised when the book just ended as it did. I, the reader, have invested so much time in the book, the characters, the situation... I needed more!

  • Arielle ⭐ Cursebreaker ⭐

    *Reposting because this beauty is actually out now. Do yourselves a favor and get you hands on it ASAP*

    OKAY. Can I just say that if this isn’t the best book I’ve read all year (I don’t think I can take that position away from ACOL) then it’s the one that’s left the biggest impact on me. And it still takes the cake as second best book. I requested this after having read ONE great review but still wasn’t fully prepared for what I was

    *Reposting because this beauty is actually out now. Do yourselves a favor and get you hands on it ASAP*

    OKAY. Can I just say that if this isn’t the best book I’ve read all year (I don’t think I can take that position away from ACOL) then it’s the one that’s left the biggest impact on me. And it still takes the cake as second best book. I requested this after having read ONE great review but still wasn’t fully prepared for what I was getting myself into. This book is a prime example of historical fiction and time travel done right—EVERYTHING about this book is done right. And as a person who love time travel that should really mean something.

    Ellie is a modern day student who is in Germany on a study abroad trip. Her grandfather, who was actually a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, used to tell her these stories about magic red balloons and how one actually saved his life while he was being transferred from a Polish ghetto to an internment camp. Oh a whim, she goes to grab it and ends up in East Germany in 1988.

    Now, I was born in 1991 and I’m going to tell you straight up that it was unbelievable for me to read about this place, one continent over, that had people living in that much fear only three years before I was born. I know that people in different places around the world are STILL living in that kind of fear but…this book in particular made me feel so sheltered. In all of my twenty five, almost twenty six years I have NEVER known that kind of fear. And it just kills to know that I have it so easy when so many others don’t. I think that this book is a good reminder of that. What’s out there even still today.

    But I digress. Let’s get to the other parts of this book that had me laughing, SOBBING, and everything in between. Well let’s see. First of all, ALL of the characters were amazing. Ellie, the main character is probably one of my favorite female protagonists of ALL TIME. Other than the small breakdown she has after being transported back in time (and I mean who WOULDN’T freak out about leaving YOUR time and friends and family) she is calm, cool, collected, sassy. UGH I fucking love her. Kai and Mitzy are just as amazing. Oh—and by the way, this book is DIVERSE. Ellie is Jewish, Kai is Romani, and Mitzy is gay. And that’s just who they are and we get to see how being those people in that time period affects their lives in a place that is so unforgiving.

    For those of you who love romance, the stuff we get in here is SO BELIEVABLE AND WILL GIVE YOU BUTTERFLIES AND SO MUCH MOREEEEEE. I just want to cry thinking about it. I don’t want to say any more honestly, you’ll just have to read it and find out yourself. Not sure what direction book two will go in or who will be in it but I am already dying to get my hands on it (which is super depressing seeing as this one doesn’t even come out until September).

    Overall, this book just goes to show that one person, magic or no, has the ability to change the course of history with even just one decision—exactly the kind of book that we want to be reading in this day and age.

    A HUGEEEEE thank you to Albert Whitman Company, NetGalley, and Katherine Locke for allowing me to read this eArc. It will stick with me FOREVER and I know I will be recommending the shit out of this book for years to come.

  • alice (arctic books)

    Overall, I liked this one! I'm looking forward to Locke's future works.

    I thought the time traveling aspect was incredibly fun, especially because I'm not a huge time-traveling person despite loving science-fiction. I liked the idea of the red balloon, serving as a way to save lives and as a huge symbol during this time period. I also enjoyed the shifting POVs between Benno, Kai, and Ellie, as I felt as if it gave me more development as to the impact of the red balloons and the time-traveling as

    Overall, I liked this one! I'm looking forward to Locke's future works.

    I thought the time traveling aspect was incredibly fun, especially because I'm not a huge time-traveling person despite loving science-fiction. I liked the idea of the red balloon, serving as a way to save lives and as a huge symbol during this time period. I also enjoyed the shifting POVs between Benno, Kai, and Ellie, as I felt as if it gave me more development as to the impact of the red balloons and the time-traveling aspect.

    The romance was also super cute and developed, and I liked the incorporation of information about the Berlin Wall and the personal perspectives as to how it affected daily lives. Overall, if you enjoy Jewish characters (as well as a swell of other characters from different backgrounds), time traveling, and German history, be sure to check out this one!

    Thank you to Edelweiss and Albert Whitman for providing a copy for an honest review.

  • Stacee

    I had only heard good things about this book and several people I trust couldn't stop gushing about it. Sadly I was disappointed.

    l liked Ellie well enough. She was sort of bland and I struggled to connect to her. I didn't see any of the extraordinary, amazing, and brave traits that everyone else saw. Kai and Mitzi were both intriguing, but also sort of meh. There is a third POV and once I figured out who it was and how it tied together, I skipped most of those chapters because it didn't bring a

    I had only heard good things about this book and several people I trust couldn't stop gushing about it. Sadly I was disappointed.

    l liked Ellie well enough. She was sort of bland and I struggled to connect to her. I didn't see any of the extraordinary, amazing, and brave traits that everyone else saw. Kai and Mitzi were both intriguing, but also sort of meh. There is a third POV and once I figured out who it was and how it tied together, I skipped most of those chapters because it didn't bring anything to the story for me.

    Plot wise, I was just so bored. There wasn't any real build up or tension. It all felt repetitive. I get that due to the time period, there wasn't going to be frivolity and there were pockets of joy and sweetness. I think that's what kept me reading.

    Overall, I liked the idea of it, but something just didn't work. I had to force myself to continue because I was hoping for a twist or a spark that would captivate me. Oh and I absolutely hated the ending.

    Judging by the high reviews, I'm in the minority, and it just wasn't for me.

    **Huge thanks to Albert Whitman & Company for providing the arc free of charge**

  • Nenia *The Flagrant Liberal* Campbell

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    I adored this author's

    series, so when I found out she was writing a book about magic realism and time travel about WWII, the Berlin Wall, and romance, the question wasn't so much, "Do I want this?" as "How badly do I want this, and when will the book be out?" The story itself seems to be paying homage to Nena's

    ; there is

    way that they aren't relate

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    I adored this author's

    series, so when I found out she was writing a book about magic realism and time travel about WWII, the Berlin Wall, and romance, the question wasn't so much, "Do I want this?" as "How badly do I want this, and when will the book be out?" The story itself seems to be paying homage to Nena's

    ; there is

    way that they aren't related - especially since the English version of that song frequently appears as "99 Red Balloons." And the "magic" in this book revolves around magical red balloons. How cool is that?

    Sadly, this book also follows what I call "music video logic." It would make a good video, but is a bad book. The world building isn't very good. The reader is just supposed to take everything at face value. There's insta-love, and the characters spend way too much time dressing up and going out to the club and laughing over nail polish. I wasn't a fan of the multiple POVs, since all the voices sounded so similar, and Ellie, the heroine, doesn't have much of a personality. I don't care if I love or hate your characters, just make me feel

    , anything.

    I read to about p.150 in earnest and then skimmed the last 100 pages, hoping things would get better. It didn't. I'm pretty bummed about this, but I guess I'll just listen to 99 Luftballons again. If there is one upside to this book, it is that it got me listening to Nena, which is always a plus. I'm shocked at how many YA bloggers are going to town over this. Did we read the same book? Was I tricked?

    1 star


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