Friday, April 8, 2016

A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Accomplished author Nielsen set out to help us hear a character's story that would  not let the author go. In turn, I was gifted with a glimpse of a life far distant from and wickedly important to my own.

Unfamiliar with a story even remotely connected to the Berlin Wall in YA lit and hearing really great things about this book, I launched into it. The first line of text, after a frightening quote from Khrushchev, reads, "There was no warning the night the wall went up."

A stark entrance into a gripping, tragic, and vital story, Nielsen follows the relentless inner voice of Greta, a character who kept "interrupting my thoughts the way I'm sure she pestered her family" (from Acknowledgements). Greta knows what is going on in East Berlin is beyond wrong, and she disagrees that she and her family are powerless to do anything about it. Greta refuses to give up, questioning, searching, and peering into possibility. She also refuses to allow her family's separation to stop her quest to reunite and live in freedom. While I liked how all of the characters were developed, I most appreciated the mother's growth (if that is what you can call it), offering a surprising nugget for the reader.

The greatest learning for me was about the Stasi, the cruel, invading, destructive spy military that repeatedly intruded and controlled virtually every breath of the citizens attempting to live under such brutal rule. A tragic story that I needed to hear, I am glad that in spite of the trials of time and other projects, Nielsen listened to Greta and wrote A Night Divided.

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