cover image Walls


L.M. Elliott, illus. by Megan Behm. Algonquin, $19.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-64375-024-8

Elliott’s immersive historical fiction novel takes place in Berlin over the course of 12 crucial months of the Cold War: August 1960–1961, as tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union intensify, culminating in the sudden erection of the Berlin Wall. When self-described “army brat” Drew MacMahon, 15, a star baseball pitcher, arrives with his family at his father’s latest posting behind the Iron Curtain, he’s prepared to make a new home and new friends for the fifth time. But he quickly finds that living in the heart of divided Europe means unexpected restrictions and growing dangers, which grow personal when his mother welcomes her German first cousin Aunt Marta and her son Matthias, who live in Communist-controlled East Berlin, into their family. As Drew and his sisters maneuver their school and social life among American friends, the political situation around them increasingly intrudes, raising questions of trust and risk-taking. Behm’s journalistic photo essay chapter openers smoothly and efficiently render the unfolding of political and cultural events, thrusting readers into the world that Drew and his likable white family and friends inhabit. An expertly crafted, evocative time capsule. Ages 12–up. (July)