Knopf. Oct. 2022. 448p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9780593428368.
Gr 10 Up–Stamper’s new book richly mixes story and art during the torrid 1960s of Berlin, Germany. Twin teenage brothers Rudi and Peter have heard “twins against the world” all their life. Now in their teens, two experiences are causing strain: their parents’ marriage, and the political climate beside their own growing divide. Little do they know that the Berlin Wall will be erected, which will catalyze Rudi and Peter’s disdain. Choices about which career to embark on when the artistic ones seem like fantasies, who to ally with, and when to push back against tightening restrictions provide profound conflict. The incorporation of Stamper’s illustrations provides a layer of richness, though there are missed opportunities at pivotal scenes to do more. The second device of dual points of view speeds up and slows down the action with tempered chapters over a year’s worth of time. Tension ebbs and flows with the changing narrative as the family’s history unfurls and their mother is institutionalized. Made stronger by the noir mood immersing readers, the palpable build-up in story comes from Stamper’s research and understanding as a German-born creator. This is an ambitious work with a strong sense of justice.
VERDICT A historical fiction title set in Europe in 1961, this will need a place on the shelf for zealous teen readers whose favorite authors include Julie Berry and Ruta Sepetys.

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