If we had known it would eventually involve the KGB, the French National Police, and the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, we would have left that body in the river and called the Polizei like any normal German citizen; but we were Americans and addicted to solving other people’s problems, so naturally, we got involved.
Second Fiddle by Rosanne Parry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Berlin in 1990: a city in transition. The Wall has just come down, people have fled from East Berlin in search of better lives, and the Soviet Army is facing some serious problems of its own. For American Army-brat Jody and her best friends, Giselle and Vivian, Berlin is also home. For a while, at least. Jody’s three-year stay is about to come to an end with her family’s upcoming move to Texas, while Giselle’s family is headed to California. The girls are in the final days of preparing for one last competition as a string trio – in Paris! – when their teacher tells them he cannot take them after all. On their way home from receiving that disappointing news, the girls save a drowning Estonian soldier, beaten and thrown off a bridge by officers of his own Soviet Army. He needs to escape Berlin before the Russians find him. The girls need a chaperon to Paris before their parents find out their teacher canceled. What could possibly go wrong?
In Parry’s second book for young readers, she takes us back to a time that seems too recent to really be called historical fiction, but it is. She sketches the reality of teens of the time – no cell phones, no e-mail – with specific details without waxing overly nostalgic (an easy trap when writing historical fiction set in your own lifetime). For today’s tweens, the days of the Soviet Union are ancient history! The story is told through Jody’s eyes, but all three girls are strong characters. Their bond, and the way it sustains them through thick and thin, forms the core of the novel. Parry keeps their madcap antics in Paris just this side of unbelievable, giving both a thrilling adventure tale and a sweet story of friendship, loyalty, and discovering one’s own strength.
Set in the waning days of the Cold War, this is a fine adventure story with a warm heart.
Checked out from my public library.