Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Published: August 25, 2015
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
From NYT bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen comes a stunning thriller about a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west.
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?
Jennifer Nielsen has joined the ranks of “authors Kim will read no matter what”. She hasn’t written a thing I don’t like. She writes with such emotion and I very rarely look at page numbers while reading her books. With all that established, I have to admit that this is her weakest work so far. That does not mean it is bad, it simply means that A Night Divided is not my favorite of her books. I enjoyed this book very much, the only issue is that sometimes, while the characters were dealing with their boring existence in Communist East Berlin, that monotony came out for me, the reader, as well. That is the only reason I’m giving it 4 stars instead of 5.
I love how Donnelly showed the practical side of life under Communism; the little things that we Americans take for granted like the freedom to listen to music, or say the things we are thinking, no matter what we’re thinking. The scenes where Gerta goes to the market and the shelves being empty of most things except cabbage was especially potent.
I would suggest this book to most millennials, no matter their age. The suspense that Donnelly created, especially near the end, made me forget any boredom I was feeling near the beginning. This is another book that I would tell high school and middle school teachers to keep on their shelves. And the cover is amazing. And everyone should read it. And now I want to visit Germany. And I’m going to start writing all my reviews in this short sentence, list format. Ok, just kidding! 😊 I really liked this book and I think everyone else should read it as well!