With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can’t help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.
But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?
This was my first time reading a book set in East Berlin during the cold war and I just have one thing to say: THIS WAS ONE OF THE MOST STRESSFUL EXPERIENCES OF MY LIFE. Wow, just wow. This book completely hooks you from the beginning, it was incredible.
I normally avoid reading books that take place during real historical events, such as World War II or World War I, but I’m so happy I read this book. Before I read A Night Divided, I had an idea of what happened in Germany during the Cold War, but this book really helps put things into perspective. Nielsen does a wonderful job describing the history behind the events, as well as, life in East Berlin. Although I’m sure life was worse than the way she describes it (because this is a middle-grade novel) Nielsen still gives you a good idea of the situation the population lived through.
The story starts the moment the wall goes up. Gerta, our main character, narrates the events leading up to the wall going up and the aftermath; how many families, including hers, were separated and why her family is being targeted by the Stasi. There was so much tension in this book, I just wanted to stop and give everyone a hug especially Gerta’s brother, Fritz, who I think really gets a taste of what the Stasi is capable of.
I really enjoyed the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, I thought they went along great with the theme of each chapter. On the other hand, my only complaint is that Gerta seemed much older than 12 years old as it is described in the book, but I do understand that during that time kids had to grow much faster.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I would definitely recommend to anyone who wants to learn a little bit more about the Berlin Wall and East Berlin.
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Comment bellow!
Thank you for reading!