Walls by L.M. Elliott

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Walls

Author: L. M. Elliott

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5

Recommended For…: historical fiction, young adult

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Publication Date: July 27, 2021

Publisher: Algonquin Children’s

Pages: 331

Recommended Age: 13+ (violence, mentions of war, gore, and “re-education”)

Synopsis: 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.

Review: For the most part I enjoyed this book. I loved seeing the photographs and it helped me visualize the story better. The characters were well developed and the pacing was well done. I also loved the world building and combined with the pictures this is one of those books I’d love to see high schoolers read.

The only thing I really had issue with is the plot of the book. It took me awhile to connect with the characters, but when I did I consumed the book.

Verdict: It was good!