A Great Escape by Felice Arena
Published by Puffin|Penguin
Date: 5 March 2019
Also available in EBook.
What’s it about?
A Great Escape is a story that shows courage, resilience and bravery in a time of an unexpected uncertainty. This book is set in a time when we see Peter and his family during the Cold War, navigating the unexpected construction of the Berlin Wall. Peter stays behind with his grandparents while his family take a trip across the border, not knowing that everything was about to change. Throughout this book we see Peter try and find ways to get over the wall to be with is family, during which he makes new friends, navigates hatred from an old friend, being deceived and battling the decision of what is right for his future and that of his loved ones.
What I love about it?
I love that Felice Arena is able to tackle difficult subjects in a way that keeps the reader engaged. I was really moved by this book and couldn’t put the book down, reading it from beginning to end in one sitting. I love that we get to see Peter work through a myriad of feelings and ideas, while making a mature decision that required him to be brave, courageous, and selfless. It was never an easy decision for Peter and I think that the way Felice has written about the conflict that Peter felt, shows children the struggle of deciding between your own wants and the right conclusion.
I really liked the way friendship was woven into the story as a way to break up the conflict, but also to navigate an escape over the wall. The compassion that Peter shows his friend Hubert is a great example of how resilient Peter is in the book, and his new friendship with Elke provided a fun and uplifting addition to the story.
Although I have only read two Felice Arena books, I have been impressed both times. Felice is able to write about difficult topics that can be confronting, but does so in a way that keeps the reader interested and invested in the story. Peter and his family’s story saw me going through intense feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and at different times feelings of hope.
Parents and educators will find this title’s historic information written in easy to read prose, a fine example of how life would have been for people like Peter and his family during the time the Berlin Wall was constructed. While we can never understand how difficult it would have been for those who lived through it, A Great Escape gives us a look into what desperation to be with your family might see you doing, and how friendship and hope help you navigate through this.
I highly recommend this book and would think it is beneficial as a classroom read and discussion piece. Perfect for ages 9+
Thank you Puffin|Penguin for the opportunity to read and honestly review this book.