Mike Jenkins at Site-Scribe
Thursday 15th February, 2018

Today, the long-list for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, an award for an outstanding book for children and young people is announced. A Berlin Love Song, by author Sarah Matthias is down to the last 20 in the latest round of judging by the panel.

CILIP Carnegie Medal

The Carnegie Medal is awarded annually and was established in 1936, in memory of the great Scottish-born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). It is the nation’s oldest children’s book award, given to authors of outstanding works by youth librarians. Previous winners include Arthur Ransome, C.S. Lewis, Margaret Mahy, Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman and Patrick Ness.

Engaging and Moving Story of Love and Hope in a Climate of Fear and Despair 

For me, the most striking thing about this novel is the vivid way that Sarah Matthias paints a picture of the lives of two families with very different experiences of WWII and the rise of Nazi Germany and enters the hearts and minds of her characters. Not only did I find myself caring for the characters very early on but I also felt transported to their world and was able to see from their perspective. This gave me a new and very visceral understanding of a period in history that carries so many stark warnings for us today. 

A Berlin Love Song is available from Amazon: CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE UK AMAZON BOOK PAGE

Listen to an interview with Sarah talking about writing A Berlin Love Song: AN INTERVIEW WITH SARAH MATTHIAS

Praise for A Berlin Love Song 

The Historical Novel Society 

Perfectly pitched to YA readers, this is a beautifully evoked love story between a Romani girl and a German soldier during WWII. The events unfold from both viewpoints: Max, who looks back to the feelings that overwhelmed him as a seventeen-year-old, encountering dark-haired Lili for the first time. And Lili, a trapeze artist from a circus family, whose love for a middle-class Berlin gadjo was always doomed. I loved everything about this book, from the freshness of the writing: ‘Helmuth roared into the farmyard on his motorbike, scattering hens like skittles’, to the harsh intensity of a romance ensnared in the dark events of the Romani Holocaust. One for every library and older-teenage bookshelf.

The Book Activist 

A Berlin Love Song is a beautiful love story and a brilliant but terrible reflection of the ‘forgotten holocaust’ – the persecution of the Roma and Sinti people during World War 2. A Berlin Love Song is well-paced and the juxtaposition of the romance alongside the complexities of war keep the reader captivated throughout. Whilst desperately sad in places, the story holds the joy of love and the strength found in family at its heart. A very appropriate metaphor for our time.


Playing by the Book
Zoe Toft 

A Berlin Love Song is the story of how Max and Lili’s lives become entwined through a chance meeting, when one evening just before the outbreak of the Second World War Max visits a travelling circus. Romani trapeze artist Lili takes Max’s breath away but little does he realise how their lives will complicate, and enrich, each other’s until the end of their days. Eloquent, vivid, compelling and deeply moving, A Berlin Love Song by Sarah Matthias  serves up complexity and seriousness with grace and clarity, creating a deeply satisfying story, brought to life through characters, settings and tableaux that will echo in your mind long after you’ve finished the book.