August 2021: I'm sitting beside the pool on a long-awaited summer holiday and I cannot lie, it's bliss. I feel so fortunate to finally be away from gloomy, cold England where summer 2021 never seemed to arrive. I've decided that historical fiction is my pick of holiday genre for the week and The Boy Behind the Wall, debut YA novel by Maximillian Jones, is my first book.
Releasing on Welbeck Kids on 14 October 2021 and set in the 1960s, The Boy Behind the Wall is about two boys, Harry and Jakob, living on the West and East sides of the Berlin Wall respectively. The boys become penpals after Harry sends a helium balloon over the wall with two notes attached. The balloon is shot down, of course, but the notes find their way into Jakob's hands.
So begins a tale of friendship, mystery and sabotage set during the fraught and dark times of divided Berlin. The action is non-stop from the very first page and this book is near impossible to put down.
Perhaps the best thing about The Boy Behind the Wall is the characters that Jakob and Harry meet along the way and the stories they have to tell. There is the comic store owner who tells Harry about how Jews were treated during the war and the cafe owner who tells Jakob about his time in the resistance. Throughout the novel is the notion that a society on the losing end of a world war was further brutalised by an authoritarian regime.
I remember watching with incredulity as the Berlin Wall came down. Now The Boy Behind the Wall can give YA readers a glimpse of what it was like to live during that time and how it felt for a thousands of people whose families were torn apart when the wall went up.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Boy Behind the Wall and give it a superb five out of five stars. I recommend to fans of historical YA as well as those who love a good spy thriller.
I was intrigued about the identity of author Maximilian Jones and have discovered that the author is fictional! From the LoveReading4Schools website:
Welbeck Flame and Tibor Jones have collaborated to develop this book with a talented team of writers, including two German editors, who work collaboratively with a dynamic and creative approach echoing the TV script-writing model. The Boy Behind the Wall, and its sequel publishing in 2022, will be published under the fictional author name Maximillian Jones.
The Boy Behind the Wall is available to pre-order on Amazon and Bookshop.org (note: both these links are affiliate links; I will receive a small commission if you purchase using these links at no extra cost to you).
I received an electronic copy of this novel for the purposes of this review. I will always provide an honest review, whether books are provided to me or purchased by me.