The Boy Behind the Wall

The Boy Behind the Wall
Maximillian Jones
Welbeck Children’s Books

This story is the launch book for Welbeck Flame, a new fiction imprint of Welbeck Children’s and it’s published using the fictional author name Maximillian Jones (the copyright is Tibor Jones Studio Ltd).
It’s a fantastic read, set in Berlin in the 1960s with two main boy protagonists: Harry Rogers, son of an American diplomat who has recently moved with his parents to West Berlin; and Jakob Fiedler, the ‘adopted’ son of the very strict Hans Eberhardt, a powerful, high ranking Stasi officer and his wife Margot.

Shortly after moving to Berlin, Harry witnesses the shooting of a boy trying to escape over the Wall into the West.

Not long after he floats a helium balloon with a message attached and it’s found by Jakob who seizes the chance to reach out to him asking for help to find his real mother who is somewhere in the West. At first Harry had thought the message was blank but it smelled of lemon and then he remembers something he’s seen in a spy comic given to him by Dieter, owner of a comic-book store he visits as often as he can.

The boys continue their correspondence cleverly making it look as though they’re just two pen friends in order to get their letters past the watchful authorities. At the same time both Harry and Jakob have issues with their fathers in particular both of whom are challengingly manipulative and Harry’s father appears to be hiding something from his wife and son. In the meantime Jakob has made friends with Dana, a girl who introduces him to her musical group.

Both Harry and Jakob realise that with The Wall as the main obstacle, a hidden tunnel is the only possible way out. However, time is running out with the Stasi on their trail seemingly with eyes everywhere. With an atmosphere of fear and distrust all around, whom can they really trust? Each other? Parents? Other ‘friends’?

Full of tense moments, this is a riveting page-turner about a part of recent of history not often visited in children’s fiction. This adult reviewer couldn’t put it down.

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