|(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)|
The New York Times bestselling author of ten young adult novels, L. M. Elliott has long been known as a master of historical fiction that humanizes and illuminates contemporary issues, steeping readers in the eras of World War II, the Cold War, and the American Revolution. Now, in the unofficial follow-up to her 2017 Suspect Red, which followed two teenage boys swept up in the 1950s Red Scare, Elliott turns her attention to the espionage-riddled standoff between America and Soviet Russia in WALLS (Publication Date: July 27, 2021; Ages 12 – 18; Hardcover; $19.95).
Set in the tumultuous year leading up to the surprise overnight raising of the Berlin Wall in August 1961, and punctuated with real-life photographs, headlines, and personalities of the time, WALLS explores the budding friendship between two cousins on different sides of the communist/democracy divide and the very real dangers their growing bond presents their families.
Drew is an army brat, a hotshot athlete poised to be his high school’s star pitcher, when he has to move for the sixth time in fifteen years—this time to West Berlin, where American soldiers like his dad hold an outpost of democracy against communist Russia in Hitler’s former capital. Meanwhile, in East Berlin, his cousin Matthias has grown up in the wreckage left by Allied bombing during World War II, on streets ruled by the Communist Party’s secret police. From the opposing sides of the Cold War, Drew and Matthias begin to overcome the many ideological walls between them to become wary friends. They argue over the space race, capitalism, socialism, and even the American civil rights movement, and bond over rock ’n’ roll—music outlawed in Matthias’s part of the city. As the political situation around them gets all the more dire, Drew and Matthias’s loyalty—to their sector, their countries, their families, and each other—will be tested in ways that will change their lives forever.
“My hope with WALLS is to provide a compelling, suspenseful read about whether two teens can learn to trust and care about one another, despite what they’ve been fed about the other’s world. Showing (I hope!) in a poignant, relatable way the importance of forming your own opinion based on personal experience and reflection. Not swallowing propaganda, disinformation, unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and innuendo, or demeaning slogans and stereotypes,” says Elliott, whose works have been recognized as NCSS/CBC Notables, Bank Street College of Education Best Books, and Grateful American Book Prize winners. “The set-up of two boys—each fervent believers in their diametrically opposed political philosophies who come to understand the other’s point of view—felt a potent way to humanize the effect of the Cold War’s dangerous polarization on the day-to-day lives of ordinary people. And given the narrative’s relevancy to some of today’s frictions, to spark some thoughts about readers’ own lives.”
Moving by month through a historically monumental year, WALLS sheds light on a troubling, often overlooked chapter of history, and brings to vivid life the heroic and tragic choices of the Cold War.
Wow! What a story! Walls is an excellent piece of YA historical fiction that will captivate you right from the start. I absolutely LOVED it to bits!
L. M. Elliott has written an entertaining and engaging story that will introduce you to cousins, Mathias and Drew - two teens living in the same city, but on opposite sides of a wall. It's Berlin, Germany in 1961 and Drew's family has just been relocated to the West side of Berlin. His father is in the army and moving is part of the job. So, Drew is used to having to start over, but he's not happy about it. His cousin Mathias lives in Berlin on the East side. His life has not been easy, living in the aftermath of war. The two cousins are literally on different sides of the same city, but also have opposing views of the politics that keep them separated. Once they begin to spend more and more time together, they finally start to open up to each other and find themselves bonding over music. Of course, it's a dangerous time to be living in Berlin, so they must keep their love of rock 'n' roll secret, along with their political ideologies. Talk about the heat in the Cold War.
Walls is a terrific story that you won't want to put down for anything. The writing is superb. The characters are great and so relatable in their youthful passions about politics, music, countries, and families. Each chapter is a month in Drew's life and starts off with photographs and information about that time in Berlin. It's such a cool way to introduce each chapter and share about the history. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters, the country they lived in, and the history surrounding them. Such an awesome story!!
I would happily recommend Walls to fans of Elliott and to anyone looking for their next great read - you will LOVE this book!!
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!