A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

A few weekends back, I was fortunate enough to be able to volunteer at an event that invited authors (and authorstrators) to present a talk and introduce some of the wonderful books that they had written, or in the process of writing. I received a book from one of the coordinators of the event called A Night Divided and it was an amazing book.

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family divided overnight. 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 neighbours 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?

Source from Goodreads

From Nielsen’s talk, she spoke about how history tended to only focus on what led up to the war and what happened during it, but didn’t shed light on what happened after the war. So, for this book, she did a lot of research on what happened afterwards and during the time the Berlin Wall was put up. She shared some crazy stories and powerful pictures on what life was like during this time. It was emotional hearing these stories, and we had people in the audience who actually saw and have been to East Germany during that time. Just hearing these stories was a profound experience.

If I don’t stand for freedom, then I must sit in chains.

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