The Girl With the Red Balloon – ARC Review



I don’t know what I expected when I picked this book up a few months ago. If I’m honest, I had barely paid attention to the synopsis. All I knew was that it was a novel about Germany, time travel, and red balloons. All I knew was that I wanted to read it.

What I did not expect was for it to hit me the way that it did, or to be nearly as good as it was.

This novel is fairly short, the hardcover is set to have only 256 pages, and yet it is so full of beautiful writing and heartwarming moments.

The story is about a Jewish girl named Ellie, on a school trip to Germany when she finds an abandoned red balloon, almost as if it had been waiting for her. Once she goes to hold it she finds herself transported back in time to 1988 on the eastern side of the Berlin Wall. There she meets Kai, an English Romani, and Mitzi, a gay, native East Berliner: two people facing terrible judgment for being different in a cruel and unforgiving world. Two people, who in spite of it all, are doing their best to sneak people into the safety of the West through the use of magical red balloons.

It also is about a boy named Benno, in 1941 Berlin. He’s a young Jew in during World War II. At first, his presence seems out of place. The point of views alternate between Ellie and Kai in 1988, and Benno in 1941. Then, all of a sudden, you see how the stories connect and how every event leads to another, all connecting in a wonderfully crafted circle. The two time periods play off one another, showing the dark moments of Germany’s recent history. They also show the heart and the hope of the people who lived through them.

I tend to avoid books about the Holocaust. I am not Jewish. I have no ties to Germany. I have no connections to any of the events that happened during those hateful years of the World War. And yet, I do not think that any of that is necessary to feel something so deep inside your soul. Books dealing with those events always break my heart. The injustice of it all kills me every time, and this book made me feel it all. This book made me laugh, it also made me cry. It is so real, and yet, so magical. Also, that ending was absolutely wonderful and heartbreaking, and everything that it needed to be.

This book has a little bit of everything and could easily appeal to anyone. It’s part historical fiction, part science fiction, part time travel adventure, and part fantasy. If you are looking for a good book, I totally recommend this one.


**I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.**

{The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke will be published by Albert Whitman Company on September 1, 2017}

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