Walls

Laura Elliott, 1957-

Book - 2021

In the days before the treacherous overnight raising of the Berlin Wall, teenaged cousins Drew, an American army brat in West Berlin, and Matthias, a young communist in East Berlin, become wary friends on opposite sides of the Cold War. Interspersed throughout the story are captioned photographs from the era.

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Subjects
Genres
Young adult fiction
Historical fiction
Published
Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin 2021.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
336 pages : illustrations (colour) ; 21 cm
Audience
Ages 12 and up.
Grades 7-9.
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN
9781643750248
1643750240
Main Author
Laura Elliott, 1957- (author)
Other Authors
Megan Behm (writer of added text)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Drew and his family move to West Berlin, Germany, as his dad, a U.S. Army sergeant stationed in East Berlin, fights to protect democracy against Communist Russia. Drew's cousin, Matthias, grew up in the war-torn city and experienced the harsh conditions of communism in East Berlin. After the two boys begin spending time together, they learn how different they are in both freedom and ideology. Though Drew is encouraged to befriend Matthias and introduce him to democracy, the two are wary of each other and their respective beliefs. As the political situation grows more tense, Drew's and Matthias' loyalties are tested, and each must choose how to navigate his politics-infused world. Elliott's latest is set a year prior to the unexpected rise of the Berlin Wall, incorporating all kinds of historical context, including science, world events, politics, and entertainment, through pictures at the beginning of each chapter, allowing readers to immerse themselves in the period. The portrayal of events is first-rate, creating a poignant yet lighthearted read. Grades 7-10. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

Elliott's immersive historical fiction novel takes place in Berlin over the course of 12 crucial months of the Cold War: August 1960–1961, as tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union intensify, culminating in the sudden erection of the Berlin Wall. When self-described "army brat" Drew MacMahon, 15, a star baseball pitcher, arrives with his family at his father's latest posting behind the Iron Curtain, he's prepared to make a new home and new friends for the fifth time. But he quickly finds that living in the heart of divided Europe means unexpected restrictions and growing dangers, which grow personal when his mother welcomes her German first cousin Aunt Marta and her son Matthias, who live in Communist-controlled East Berlin, into their family. As Drew and his sisters maneuver their school and social life among American friends, the political situation around them increasingly intrudes, raising questions of trust and risk-taking. Behm's journalistic photo essay chapter openers smoothly and efficiently render the unfolding of political and cultural events, thrusting readers into the world that Drew and his likable white family and friends inhabit. An expertly crafted, evocative time capsule. Ages 12–up. (July) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

In the days before the treacherous overnight raising of the Berlin Wall, teenaged cousins Drew, an American army brat in West Berlin, and Matthias, a young communist in East Berlin, become wary friends on opposite sides of the Cold War. Interspersed throughout the story are captioned photographs from the era.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Can two cousins on opposite sides of the Cold War and a divided city come together when so much stands between them?  Drew is an army brat in West Berlin, where soldiers like his dad hold an outpost of democracy against communist Russia. Drew’s cousin Matthias, an East Berliner, has grown up in the wreckage of Allied war bombing, on streets ruled by the secret police. From enemy sides of this Cold War standoff, the boys become wary friends, arguing over the space race, politics, even civil rights, but bonding over music. If informants catch Matthias with rock ’n’ roll records or books Drew has given him, he could be sent to a work camp. If Drew gets too close to an East Berliner, others on the army post may question his family’s loyalty. As the political conflict around them grows dire, Drew and Matthias are tested in ways that will change their lives forever. Set in the tumultuous year leading up to the surprise overnight raising of the Berlin Wall in August 1961, and illustrated with dozens of real-life photographs of the time, Walls brings to vivid life a heroic and tragic episode of the Cold War.  

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Can two cousins on opposite sides of the Cold War and a divided city come together when so much stands between them?  Drew is an army brat in West Berlin, where soldiers like his dad hold an outpost of democracy against communist Russia. Drew’s cousin Matthias, an East Berliner, has grown up in the wreckage of Allied war bombing, on streets ruled by the secret police. From enemy sides of this Cold War standoff, the boys become wary friends, arguing over the space race, politics, even civil rights, but bonding over music. If informants catch Matthias with rock ’n’ roll records or books Drew has given him, he could be sent to a work camp. If Drew gets too close to an East Berliner, others on the army post may question his family’s loyalty. As the political conflict around them grows dire, Drew and Matthias are tested in ways that will change their lives forever. Set in the tumultuous year leading up to the surprise overnight raising of the Berlin Wall in August 1961, and illustrated with dozens of real-life photographs of the time, Walls brings to vivid life a heroic and tragic episode of the Cold War.