I was immediately intrigued when I opened up this package. I hadn’t read any tween books set in this particular time period and was looking forward to the dual narrative structure of the story.
‘What would you risk for a friend you’ve never met . . . ?
In 1960s Berlin the Wall is everywhere. It cuts through streets, parks, even houses. Teenagers Harry and Jakob live either side of the divide.
In West Berlin, American Harry witnesses the brutal shooting of a boy trying to escape over the Wall into the West, and decides to emulate his comic book heroes and help those in the East however he can.
On the other side in East Berlin, Jakob is the adopted son of a high up Stasi officer, feeling suffocated by the rules of a strictly regimented society and desperate to find his real family.
When Jakob finds a message that Harry has sent over the Wall, he grasps the opportunity. The boys begin a secret friendship, evading the authorities using lemon juice as invisible ink to share hidden messages.
They soon realise that a bold plot to carve a tunnel under the wall is the only way out for Jakob – and it’s time to put their friendship to the test. Just how much are they prepared to risk for each other – and for freedom?’
This book sensitively reflects the struggles faced by many ordinary West Berliners under the ever watchful eye of the Stasi. It literally starts with a bang and the pace doesn’t let up for a moment.
Although there are a few scenes of violence, these are neither gratuitous or graphic. They are simply there to illustrate what life was like at the time and to allow the plot of the story to move on as it should. I wouldn’t hesitate to give it to a mature eleven year old to read.
I also loved the pivotal role that music and comic books played in both the narratives. It was interesting to see how musical prowess was used as a form of propaganda by the East Berlin authorities and how Western music was banned. Certain sequences within the story read very much like a comic book action sequence, which I think is a reflection of the TV script-writing model used by the team who created the story.
I have to confess that I raced through the final chapters as the stories of Harry and Jakob drew to their conclusions – I was so desperate to see how things ended up for them. This book will definitely hook in any readers who like an action-packed read. The unusual historical time period is an added bonus! I’d recommend this for readers aged 11+
*Many thanks to Welbeck Flame for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour*