Sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum and her classmates are visiting Germany. When she spots a red balloon, she tells her best friend to take a picture so she can show her grandfather when she returns to the United States. But by grabbing that red balloon Ellie is taken back in time to East Berlin in 1988. There she meets members of an organization who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the wall to West Berlin. But to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. Eventually it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history and Ellie wants to do everything she can to stop them, even if it means never returning home again.
There are three points-of-view: Ellie's when she briefly travels to Germany in present time then travels back to 1988 where the rest of her story is told, Kai's who is a Runner, someone who helps people get over the wall, and Benno's back in the 1940's in a Polish ghetto. This is such an interesting concept - using balloons to send people over the Berlin Wall. But there was something about this book that didn't quite make it as enjoyable as I'd hoped. I liked the characters, but I felt as though, except for Benno, we only scratched the surface of who they really were. The writing itself was just okay - sometimes the characters were overly dramatic. I think this book may appeal more to younger readers.
Thank you to Netgalley and Albert Whitman & Company for a copy of this book.