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A Night Divided Hardcover – August 25, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—It's August 13, 1961. Young Gerta wakes up to see that the Berlin Wall has been built overnight, dividing not only her city but her family. Her father and brother Dominic went looking for work on the west side of the city and now they cannot return home. Gerta, her mother, and brother Fritz are trapped in East Berlin. Years pass and resentment of Russian oppression and her family's separation make the now 12-year-old more than ready to take a dangerous chance when her father's smuggled clues encourage her to dig a tunnel to freedom. Nielsen, best known for her fantasy novels, proves she is equally skilled at historical fiction in this solidly structured, balanced account of the origins of an infamous historical landmark. Gerta is a sassy, determined heroine with realistic fears and frustrations—like her longing for a banana. Distinct supporting characters each react differently to Russian rule and demonstrate the harrowing choices people made to survive, encouraging readers to consider what they would have done if fate and history had cast them into the story. The novel is also an intriguing history of the Berlin Wall itself, detailing how and why it was built and citizens' first reactions. Opening each chapter is an inspirational quote about freedom and bravery juxtaposed with barbed-wire illustrations; the book's final quote ominously warns "History repeats itself." VERDICT The novel's strong setting and tense climax will keep readers engrossed and holding their breath until the last page.—Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY
A New York Times Notable Children's Book
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
A Chicago Public Library "Best of the Best" Children's Book
A Cybils Award Winner
"A page-turner." -- The New York Times Book Review
"Sage proves to be a compelling character whose sharp mind and shrewd self-possession will make readers eager to follow him into a sequel." -- Wall Street Journal
"A swashbuckling origin story . . . chock-full of alluring details for adventure-loving boys." -- Los Angeles Times
"An impressive, promising story." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A fast-paced and thrilling read with twists and turns that never let up." -- School Library Journal
"Gripping." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Should appeal to fans of . . . Suzanne Collins. . . . A sure-fire mix of adventure, mystery, and suspense." -- The Horn Book
Top customer reviews
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Gerta, her brother Fritz, and their mother wake up one morning to find a fence separating them from West Berlin but more tragically, from their father and other brother who went to West Berlin only 2 days before. The book is told by Gerta, who struggles under the oppressiveness of the GDR while attempting to dig a tunnel to the other side with hopes to unite her divided family. Gerta’s voice is strong and mature for a 12 year old girl as her circumstances force her to grow up before her time. Her courage and will to be free are admirable while her struggle to forgive and understand the world’s cruelties is plausible.
I must warn potential readers that you will not want to put this book down. From the first page, it is nonstop and Nielsen keeps you on edge with each new plot development (we fans know she is an expert at this!). Working and even sleeping got in my way of finishing this book sooner than I actually did. The provided historical pictures and map prior to the story prepare the readers for the somber yet hopeful mood of the book and many of the quotes at each chapter’s beginning will stay with you. A Night Divided is a book that should be read by every historical fiction fan and every social studies classroom. I think it is safe to say that Nielsen is wonderful at writing fantasy and historical fiction!
Most recent customer reviews
"This book caught my eye on the racks of a bookstore—and from that instant, I was hooked.Read more