When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.
I went into this book expecting something light, romantic, and fun.
noooope. This book is dark. It’s romantic. And it’s one of those books that leaves you thinking about the deeper thing in life, about how cavalier we can be with our lives, and the chances we get.
I liked Ellie right away, but she is such a badass. She’s strong, and kickass, and she has such a great vulnerability to her. No one is strong all the time, and she isn’t. She’s strong when she needs to be, but she breaks down sometimes and there’s no shame of backlash for it.
I’ve been very blessed in life, and I acknowledge my own privilege, but as someone who has never had to truly think about the horrors of the Holocaust or the Berlin Wall, this book was so eye-opening. As a human being, I have (of course!) wondered sometimes about the “why” of things.
Why someone has died. Why so many horrible and awful things have happened to the world. And this quote… y’all, this quote had me tearing up.
“I want to believe that we’re all here for a reason, and what we have now, and all that history behind us, is important and meaningful even when it’s terrible. Even when it’s sad.” (quoted from my ARC, and therefor subject to change before the release of the book)
I just. This book is so sad, in so many ways, but it’s also hopeful. Ellie, being from the future, knew that in just a few months, the horror would end. The Wall would fall. But it was such a dark time, for everybody, and I think it’s actually said that they don’t think it would end. As a reader, I felt that speaking to my soul. Whatever’s going on, no matter how dark, how horrible, how awful it is, there is hope. It may feel like it’ll never end, but it will. Just stay strong.
Okay, whew! That was all super deep. So let’s talk romaaaaance.
Kai. Kai. KAI. he was. amazing. like… seriously. He was respectful and kind, and wonderful and the relationship was just a++++ and I LOVE IT.
also: kai, ellie, and mitzi: SQUAD. GOALS. I am not kidding. Squad. Goals. S Q U A D G O A L S ! I can’t even review anymore. I’m legit just flailing.
Overall, this book packs a powerful punch with colorful characters, healthy romance, a world that maybe isn’t as black and white as we think.