I have loved Jennifer’s books for many years. The False Prince and it’s sequels have been must-reads in my classroom for a long time. To me she is such a fantasy writer, one that weaves tales that sucks us in and leaves us wanting more. Imagine my surprise when I saw her new book A Night Divided. Long gone are the tales of battles, kings and queens, instead replaced with a stark narrative of what happened when the Berlin Wall was erected over night. It seemed so unlike her, but it is not. Her masterful story telling shines as we enter the would of Gerta and Fritz and their quest to have their dream survive. I was sucked into the story, needing to read just one more page until I sadly found myself at the end. Well done Jennifer.
So this book is a must add to 4th grade and up. There is shooting and death in it, after all it is historical fiction, but it is not graphic.
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?