Review: Berliners by Vesper Stamper [TBR Book Tour]

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the Berlines by Vesper Stamper Blog Tour hosted by TBR and Beyond Book Tours. Check out my review and favorite quotes!

About the Book:

Synopsis

A riveting story about the rivalry between two brothers living on opposite sides of the Berlin wall during its construction in the 1960s, and how their complicated legacy and dreams of greatness will determine their ultimate fate.

A city divided. A family fractured. Two brothers caught between past and present.

Berlin, 1961. Rudi Möser-Fleischmann is an aspiring photographer with dreams of greatness, but he can’t hold a candle to his talented, charismatic twin brother Peter, an ambitious actor.

With the sudden divorce of their parents, the brothers find themselves living in different sectors of a divided Berlin; the postwar partition strangely mirroring their broken family.

But one night, as the city sleeps, the Berlin Wall is hurriedly built, dividing society further, and Rudi and Peter are forced to choose between playing by the rules and taking their dreams underground.

That is, until the truth about their family history and the growing cracks in their relationship threatens to split them apart for good.

Epic Book Society’s Thoughts:

Berliners by Vesper Stamper

A unique account of life in war-torn Berlin after the end of WWII. Full of emotion, family drama, and historical insight. A fascinating story about two twins ending up on different sides of the Berlin Wall.

By Louisa Smith

Storyline
Writing style
Uniqueness
Character Development
Likelihood of reading the sequel

Summary

Wow, so I was immediately hooked on this book. We are first introduced to Rudolf and Isle who are young teens fighting for survival during war-torn Berlin at the end of WWII. Isle has no one left, and Rudolf invites her to live with him and his grandmother.

We see them struggle to rebuild their lives, as well as the city, after the devastation of the war. When Isle becomes pregnant with twins, they get married, but it’s clear that for Isle it was about convenience.

We then cut to the future when the twins, Rudi and Peter, are sixteen years old. Though they are twins, they are very different. Rudi is into photography and tries hard at school. Peter wants to be an actor and is always given awards and praise, though it’s clear that Rudi tries harder.

We begin to see resentments forming, and differences in their personalities becoming clashes, as the boys get older. On top of them butting heads, they’re also starting to become more aware of political issues surrounding post-WWII Berlin.

As the story progresses, they do not grow much in age but they grow a lot in their attitudes and awareness of their surroundings. What’s interesting is that each twin is divided in their ideas – where one goes to live on the Western side under American control, and the other in the East, which is held by the Russians.

But while Rudi and Peter start to adopt differing political opinions, they both want to fight for their parent’s attention and a sense of belonging in the world.

Each chapter is told from different perspectives, which gives the reader a unique insight into the unsettling state of Berlin as it was held between two countries.

The writing style is quite mature but it’s well-written and descriptive. You can really imagine the strength and struggles of the characters, and it feels as if you are there when you’re reading.

It’s a time in history that no one thinks about. What happens after war? How do people rebuild their lives, and how do governments lead after the people have lost their trust? All of these questions are addressed in this book, and what’s unique and fascinating about it is, that because the twins end up on different sides, you really get to understand two sides to the story.

Admittedly, the story slows down in the middle, but it picks up again. The ideology behind this book is really intriguing, and for fans of historical fiction, you’ll find it thought-provoking and insightful.

This is a coming-of-age, historical fiction novel full of intrigue, political agendas, family rivalry, and resilience.

4.8

Our favorite Quotes:

“Years of convincing himself that down was up, east was west, wrong was right. Compassion was weakness. There was now no belief, no theory, no thought at all – only the animal will to survive.”

Vesper Stamper, Berliners

“Rudi believed in words, that they meant what people told him they should mean. He believed all the concepts on his school exams because he wanted peace, and knew it was worth fighting for. He trusted in a better era to come, so believed in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik. The Western sectors may have better movies and patries. But that wasn’t going to save the world.”

Vesper Stamper, Berliners

“Life is lovely; you just have to see it through the right lens.”

Vesper Stamper, Berliners

“Is it right to make people laugh at someone else’s expense? What if the person isn’t there? What if they’re in on the joke – does that make it alright?”

Vesper Stamper, Berliners

“Every problem in the world has a tidy explanation: Capitalist imperialism. Western colonialism. Bonn fascism.”

Vesper Stamper, Berliners

“You couldn’t rest comfortably in the illusion of simulated reality. Brecht’s work claled for alertness, for identification. The problem in his plays were your problems. The solutions lay in your hands.”

Vesper Stamper, Berliners

“Seeing his twin made him feel repaired, like a little frayed patch had been darted back together.”

Vesper Stamper, Berliners

“A troubled youth is having a swell time on the outside, going to the parties, getting all the girls, but inwardly, he’s tormented, and it leads him to his downfall – all because – are you ready? He didn’t join the party, you see.”

Vesper Stamper, Berliners

“Humans are very adaptable. It’s not the end of the world. It’s just a wall.”

Vesper Stamper, Berliners

About Vesper Stamper

From National Book Award-nominated, critically acclaimed author-illustrator Vesper Stamper comes a stark look at how resentment and denial can strain the bonds of brotherhood to the breaking point.

Born in Germany and raised in New York City, Vesper Stamper writes and illustrates novels which tell, through both words and pictures, stories of history’s rhymes.

Her debut illustrated YA novel, What the Night Singsabout the aftermath of the Holocaust through the eyes of a young musician, was a National Book Award Nominee, a National Jewish Book Award Finalist, a Morris Award FinalistGolden Kite Honor Book and Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner, and was named one of the Best YA Books of 2018/9 by YALSA, the Wall Street Journal and Kirkus.

Vesper has a BFA in Illustration from Parsons and an MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay from School of Visual Arts and is the host of the podcast Vesperisms: The Art of Thinking for Yourself, which aims to cultivate a rehumanized worldview through artistic thinking.

She lives with her husband, filmmaker Ben Stamper, and her two teenagers, in the Northeast, and teaches illustration at School of Visual Arts.

Website | Instagram | Goodreads | Podcast


Tour Schedule

September 19th
Nine Bookish Lives – Promotional Post
Midsummer Night’s Read – Review

September 20th
Stuck in Fiction – Promotional Post
Shelvesofstarlight – Review & Tik Tok

September 21st
Kait Plus Books – Promotional Post
The Someday Librarian – Review & Favorite Quotes

September 22nd
Pages & Plots – Promotional Post
Epic Book Society – Review & Favorite Quotes

September 23rd
Sheaf & Ink – Promotional Post
The Ink Slinger – Review
Phannie the ginger bookworm – Review & Playlist

September 24th
The Book Dutchesses – Promotional Post
Books We Love – Review

September 25th
This Soul’s Devouring Words – Promotional Post
Rae’s Reading Lounge – Review & Favorite Quotes

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About Louisa

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the founder, editor, and head honcho of Epic Book Society. Once a published poet at the age of 7, she aspired to become a journalist, but that career hit a wall so here she is writing about books instead. When she's not writing about books, she's teaching English to primary school kids around the world.

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