Beyond the Blue Border (Hardcover)
Hanna and Andreas will do anything to leave oppressive East Germany behind. There's one escape route open to them, but can they survive it?
Hanna and Andreas have always been friends. When they're expelled from school for activism directly challenging the socialist state in East Germany, they end up doing factory work. But what kind of life do they have to look forward to without education or opportunity? Especially when they aren't allowed a voice? The choice to risk imprisonment or death by escaping to the democratic West seems like a risk worth taking. They set out to swim twenty-five hours across the choppy waters of the Baltic Sea.
Linke's storytelling achieves a delicate balance between heightened moments of danger--searchlights, jellyfish, a Russian helicopter, a violent summer storm--and the monotony, ineffable fatigue, physical pain, cramping, fear, and hope that fill the rest of the journey. A memorable tale of two people risking all for a chance at freedom.
About the Author
Dorit Linke was born in Rostock in the former German Democratic Republic. Growing up, she was a competitive athlete and lifeguard. After high school and the fall of the Berlin Wall, she studied architecture in Berlin and traveled the world.
♦ Two East German teens embark on a grueling swim across the Baltic Sea in search of freedom.
In the late 1980s, Hanna Klein and Andreas Kuschwitz are growing up in the coastal city of Rostock. Hanna is smart and a strong swimmer with a chance to pursue higher education; Andreas is constantly in trouble, never able to conform and behave in school. After they both face disciplinary action for supposed ideological transgressions, they’re sent to work in a diesel engine plant where they are harassed by the workers because of their higher social status. Andreas decides to attempt an escape, and Hanna joins him in a 30-kilometer swim in hopes of reaching the West German island of Fehmarn. With the goal of eventually reaching their friend in Hamburg whose family received official permission to leave the German Democratic Republic, they brave the frigid water, hoping not to get caught or killed. Written by a Rostock native and translated from German, this is a moving story depicting the dreams of escapees fighting for their lives. Hanna’s first-person narration vividly shows the young people’s fears, exhaustion, struggles, pain, and the obstacles they must overcome. However, this storyline is broken up with lighter comedic flashbacks providing background information about their lives prior to their escape; these stories highlight their experiences at school, friendships, relationships with authority figures, conflicting views of socialism, and current events.
A compelling look at Germany’s recent past.
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
A powerful work of historical fiction, Beyond the Blue Border follows teens Hanna and Andreas as they attempt to leave the oppressive environment of socialist East Germany in order to pursue educational and professional opportunities—or at least the promise of them—in democratic West Germany. When the two teens learn that their one chance at escape is swimming a 25-hour route across the freezing, treacherous Baltic Sea, they weigh their odds of survival against the risk of danger and death. Linke’s riveting and heart-wrenching tale, translated from the original German by Lauffer, is a story of friendship and chance, effectively weaving between high-impact action scenes and the palpable survival moments as the pair try to keep their bodies—and dreams—afloat. Navigating the swells and dips of emotion, and with the ever-present reminder that capture will mean imprisonment or death for Hanna and Andreas, readers will root for the determined duo as they attempt to improve their chance at a better life, despite the hardships along the way.