A NIGHT DIVIDED by Jennifer Nielsen

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?




Government figures threatening and bullying citizens and main character. Hints at characters being beaten and even shot, but no graphic descriptions.


Book gets intense toward the end. No horror, but a lot of suspense regarding the characters' situation and safety.



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Comments: This was one of those books that should be required reading in school. It tackles a troubling time in history (during the era of the Iron Curtain) with grace and empathy. It portrays the difficulty that citizens living in East German faced when they were divided from the rest of the country and world, and it asks and encourages readers to ponder deeply important questions that continue to be relevant today. The main character is incredibly well written and believable and her limitations due to her age and circumstances are taken into account. This is an excellent book for middle-grade readers, young adults, and even adults.

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