Katherine Locke wrote an excellent fantasy book with some history sprinkled in. I wouldn’t exactly call it historical fiction – and that may be because I am not super familiar with East Germany in the late ’80s – but I feel like it’s more fiction that history. The Girl with the Red Balloon was a quick and engaging read, mainly since it was written for young adults/high schoolers, but I really enjoyed it.
The main character, Ellie, unknowingly travels back in time to 1988 East Berlin when she grabs a red balloon while on a school trip. The Berlin wall is up and she finds herself with a crowd of magicians and runners helping people escape. But they now have a new mission – to figure out how the magic made the balloon, and Ellie, travel across time. And this is made even more complicated when others are found dead after being pulled from another time by balloons. Ellie’s relationships in 1988 grow and she is torn between a desire to maintain these relationships but also return home to her present time. Everything culminates when she and her friends figure out who is responsible for tampering with the balloons and then try to make things right.
The book is an interesting mix of fantasy with some historical base in East Berlin when people could not leave and could not really live freely. I like books like this, although I do think there can be a fine line of making light of historical events by twisting fiction into them. I definitely recommend this book, especially if you enjoy magic and fantasy. There’s a bit of a love story as well and who doesn’t love that?! Enjoy!