Jessie's Reviews > The Spy with the Red Balloon

The Spy with the Red Balloon by Katherine  Locke
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it was amazing
bookshelves: ace-spectrum
Read 2 times. Last read April 5, 2019 to April 10, 2019.

I loved almost all of the characters here. Ilse is so young and quick and earnest. Wolf is more contained, but he feels just as strongly, just as stubborn, and more intelligent than he gives himself credit for. He loves so quickly. Both of them grow over the course of just a few months here, and I really appreciated that Ilse's journey shows that growth doesn't always look like increased certainty. Sometimes we need to be more uncertain first.

I laughed because there's sibling banter and teammate banter, and it gives small spots of light in darkness. I cried, and it wasn't a part at which one would expect a reader to cry. One of Ilse's chapters starts with her talking about how slow, difficult, and grinding scientific progress can be but that the process is still important. And in reading that, I felt so seen because research is slow and difficult and such a fight for me right now, and a fictional, magical girl in 1943 felt the same way.

Wolf is demisexual (word not used, but it's described on page), and I liked the rep. He feels aesthetic attraction, but he's only felt sexual attraction to one person. Romantic attraction isn't discussed (in the conversation where this explicitly comes up, Lily is asking about sexual attraction specifically), but Wolf only ever mentions interest in Max. (He does later call sexual attraction "more than mere love," so that makes it seem like he's not arospec. Lily also says Wolf loves easily whereas she does not, further implying he isn't arospec.) Wolf says that he used to think he was broken but that "the rebbe told me that I was made in God's image, and God was both perfect and imperfect, and I held onto that." I found that pretty lovely. And it's only mentioned briefly, but the sexual attraction to Max was initially disorienting/confusing to Wolf.

There's the aforementioned "more than mere love" referring to sexual attraction, and maybe three instances of "just friends" or "more than friends"-ish comments.

CW: war, nuclear weapons, gun violence, basically forced military service, anti-Semitism, concentration camps, genocide, mass killings, misogyny, racism (especially anti-Blackness), anti-queerness, interrogation, torture.

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Reading Progress

December 12, 2016 – Shelved
October 14, 2018 – Started Reading
October 14, 2018 – Finished Reading
April 5, 2019 – Started Reading
April 10, 2019 – Finished Reading

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