This post contains affiliate links. PB & J Girl is a lot like me in that she’s always on the look out for new books to add to her to-be-read book list. She discovered Jennifer Nielsen, and we’ve already read her books, Words on Fire and Resistance, both of which were very good. So, as part of our modern history study, we read her book, A Night Divided, about the Berlin Wall. We both enjoyed it!
About A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen
When the story opens, Gerta is a twelve-year-old living with her two older brothers, Fritz and Dominic, as well as her parents. Her father is well aware of the strife the family is under in Russian-occupied East Berlin. He tries to convince his wife to cross the border with him to the west, but she is hesitant. Their neighbor convinces Gerta’s mother that Gerta’s father should go to the West for a few days to explore job possibilities and look for an apartment. To appease those in charge in the East, Gerta’s father brings along Dominic as proof to the authorities that he’s only going for a short visit.
However, the night after Gerta’s father and Dominic leave for their short trip to the West, the Russians erect the Berlin Wall. Gerta’s family is split in half with no chance to reunite.
But one day, when Gerta is walking by the Wall on her way to school, she sees Dominic peeking over. The next day, she sees her dad who does a pantomime of a song they used to sing together. Based on the lyrics and his motions, she realizes he’s asking her to dig. Then, she receives a letter with a map, and she begins to wonder if her father wants her to dig to the West and freedom.
My Thoughts on the Book
Even though this is a middle grade book, I’d recommend it to adults, too. The story builds in suspense throughout. We read one chapter aloud a day, but we read the last five chapters in one sitting because we had to see what happened.
While the book was excellent, we both agreed that we had to suspend our disbelief in some parts. Yet, I found myself remembering the story of the family that escaped using a hot air balloon, which also seems improbable.
I give A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen 5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.
Forty Autumns by Nina Willner