Nielsen, Jennifer A. A Night Divided
August 25th 2015 by Scholastic
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Gerda's father has been outspoken against the East German government, so is making plans to move the family to West Berlin, but Gerda's mother doesn't want to leave her own parents, who live in the country outside their East Berlin home. When the Berlin Wall goes up, both the father and Gerda's older brother, Dominic, are on the other side. The police turn a suspicious eye on the family, especially years later when brother Fritz's best friend, Peter, tries to escape with some West Germans in the trunk of a car and is killed. Peter's sister Anna is Gerda's best friend, so the two are estranged. Fritz wants to leave, because there is a file on him, and he tells Anna that there is one on her, too. Since she is only 12, this alarms her, and when she catches a glimpse of her brother, and then her father, she knows it is time for her to escape. She sees her father several times, and he is acting out a familiar song from her childhood, one where he seems to be telling her to dig. When she gets a hand drawn picture of a building, she goes looking for it and finds a bomb shelter in the basement. Clearly, her father wants her to tunnel to West Berlin, but it is dangerous. She lets Fritz in on the secret, and the two work very hard on the tunnel, pretending to be spending their time gardening. Anna knows about the garden, and spends some time there, making Gerda very nervous. When Fritz's date to report for the army approaches, the two children get support and help from some unlikely places. Will they be able to make it to safety?
Strengths: This was well plotted, and explained a fair amount of what was going on in Berlin. The father's background made the family's unhappiness even more pronounced-- they just weren't going to win. I liked that the mother was willing to stay. That seemed realistic. The fighting with Anna was also a nice touch.
Weaknesses: Not all that exciting. There are moments, as in the end, but there is also a lot of digging and hiding from the authorities.
What I really think: You would think that the Berlin Wall would be an interesting historical era to read about, but I've struggled to find one that students will pick up. Degens Freya on the Wall and Kephart's Going Over just haven't done well in my library. Debating purchasing this one.