Hello!! I am so excited to be on the blog tour for Walls, by L M Elliott! Walls was released on the 27th, so you can go order your copies of this amazing book now! Anyways, I don’t have anything else to say, so I’m going to get right into the review!
Author: L. M. Elliott
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date (paperback): July 27th, 2021
Genre: Young adult, historical fiction
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. If Matthias is caught by the Stasi’s neighborhood spies with the records or books Drew has given him, he will be sent to a work camp for “re-education.” At the same time, Drew’s friendship with the East Berlin Jugend–who ardently spout communist dogma–raises suspicions about his family’s loyalty to America. 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. 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 brings to vivid life the heroic and tragic choices of the Cold War.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion and my review.
Walls, by L M Elliott is a truly remarkable novel. Though the book started off a bit slow, once it picked up I couldn’t stop reading it.
One of my favorite aspects of the book was how we were able to see the drastic differences in life in East and West Berlin during the cold war.
Drew has a cousin named Matthias living in East Berlin, and through him Drew learns what communist Russia was like, and the reader learns with him,
The book takes you through the time leading up to the construction of the Berlin Wall, in sections covering each month. Something I loved was how at the beginning of each of the little sections, there are a few pages writing about what was happening in Berlin during that time. There was also a really interesting part with information on what was happening elsewhere in the world, and that gave me some perspective to what was happening, and to see what was happening all over the world.
The brutality and relentlessness of the soviet communism, on kids especially, was written so well, and in such a way that you had to really empathize with the kids who had been taught the same things their entire lives, the same Russian propaganda shoved in their faces.
The references to Animal Farm were also really interesting to read. I read Animal Farm a couple months ago, and I’m really glad that I had the knowledge of the book while reading Walls because of the references to it, and how the main character Drew was constantly noticing the parallels between Animal Farm and Stalinism.
The side characters were all very well developed, and were all really given their own arcs. Bob, another son of a military official stationed in Berlin was an interesting character, and so was Shirley, another military kid.
Drew was also really close to his sisters, and their relationship was always sweet to read about. Because of moving so much, they were very close, and the author showed that well.
L. M. Elliott was an award-winning Washington-based magazine journalist, covering women’s issues, mental health, and the performing arts, before becoming a New York Times best-selling author of historical and biographical fiction. Her twelve novels explore a variety of eras (the Italian Renaissance, the American Revolutionary War, WWII, and the Cold War), and are written for a variety of ages. Many of her works have won national awards, including being named NCSS/CBC Notables (National Council of Social Studies and Children’s Book Council), Bank Street College Best Books, Jefferson Cup Honor Books, and Grateful American Book Prize winners. Elliott holds a BA from Wake Forest University and a Masters in journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill. She is a lifelong Virginia resident and history-lover.
Walls is a really great book, and I am so glad I was able to read it!! I learned so much from the book, and it was such a unique historical perspective. I definitely recommend it to people interested in the time period, and in general to fans of historical fiction!