A gracefully developed, autobiographical story set in East Germany, 1952, in which the adolescent (nameless) narrator struggles with political discrepancies, his father's bourgeois aspirations, and his own inchoate beliefs. His life is full--academic success, good friend Horst, aquarium hobby--his few problems go to the local Mr. Fixit, and he searchingly plays devil's advocate: at school, with Zierold who has faith in Five Year Plans, and at the dinner table, with a father who derides the Party. Korner skillfully integrates the boy's personal explorations into the ominous political atmosphere: at fourteen, he gets a first kiss from Hannelore and a startling rejection from the high school--it now favors the children of workers and peasants. With no prior notice his parents reveal plans to escape to the West, and he immediately refuses to leave his friends. Nonetheless, without goodbyes, they cross the green frontier (much easier than the Berlin Wall years later), only to confront other barriers in the West where the emergency reception center (an interval of hardship) and resettlement are dislocating but ultimately liberating. Eloquent, polished, and admirable in its restraint.