A Night Divided

Historical Fiction Assignment by: Sophie Dishman

Annotated Book Review

In the historical fiction novel A Night Divided by New York Times bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen, 12 year old Gerta Lowe must escape the Soviet Union rule to have a free life and become reunited with her family. She must listen to her father’s messages to secretly escape East Berlin right under the noses of the Stasi and Grenztruppen. This book is enticing, nail biting, and a great book to learn about bravery and perseverance.


In the book A Night Divided, Gerta Lowe is awoken to hear sounds of construction. She looks out her window to see a wall dividing her beloved city. She heard rumors about this happening but never imagined it coming true. The night before her father and older brother Dominic went to West Berlin to look for work and a place for their family to live. Her family was divided and she was determined to make it whole again. All Gerta could do for now was go on every day like nothing was happening, but something inside of her was shouting out “This is wrong, fix it!” As the story continues, she walks to school, like normal, with her best and only friend Anna who is very loyal to the Soviets. She looks over at the wall towering over her to see her brother Dominic and her father standing on the podiums rising from the west. She is thrilled to see her family safe and sound. Gerta discretely looks over to see her father dancing to the song that he sang to her as she was going to bed. As he kept dancing something was off, he kept repeating the one part of the dance, digging. Gerta soon realized that is what he wanted her to do, dig to the west.


As the book's riveting plot continues Gerta now has to convince her older brother Fritz and her mother that the best choice for them is to leave. She gets a secret letter from an anonymous person but she knew it was her father. On the letter there was a drawing of an old rustic building, she must find that building and from there start digging. She searches for days looking for this specific building. When she finds it she realizes that even being in the building was a crime and she would need help to build the tunnel and stay safe. Gerta tries to get her brother involved, he has hesitations at first but soon comes to agreement to help her. In the rest of the book they dig and dig and dig some more. They go through many setbacks and challenges but they find help in a person you least expect help from. The end of the book will keep you on your toes and you don’t know what will happen next.


The author of this book did an amazing job of conveying each little detail to describe what she is writing about that a movie was running through my head as I read the book. Jennifer A. Nielsen’s word choice in describing the city Gerta and her family lived in was perfect. She used the words such as “Communist Grey” to tell about how the buildings, markets, food, and clothing looked under the rule of the Soviets, everything was bland and plain. I also liked how the author left me on a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter. The endings were suspenseful and made me what to read more. This book has very many strength to it that helped make it as successful as it is.


This book was amazing and I didn’t want to put it down. Gerta and her family were very well developed strong characters that would make any reader feel for the pain and hardships they went through. I would give this book a 4 ½ out of 5 stars, I will definitely be reading other books that Jennifer A. Nielson wrote.

Historical Accuracy

The author of this book did a great job putting in the historical facts to make the book sound more realistic. Every fact she put in there was very necessary to make the story flow and give more detail. I could clearly understand the time period of the book because of them. Jennifer A. Nielson, the author of this book, did a good job on putting accurate facts in the book but she also made up a couple of terms that seemed realistic but were only in the book to add flavor and detail to the story. Overall this was a really good and accurate book for this time period.
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Short Narrative

June 11th, 1961

Dear Diary,

Today is the day, the day I start to dig. I haven’t said those words out loud yet because I’m afraid of what will happen so I’m writing it down instead. There is a huge range of emotions I am feeling right now, the biggest is fear. It can’t be, I have to push that aside and focus on being safe and getting out. I have two options, dig and be with my family or live in a prison for the rest of my life. Sounds like an easy choice, right? But it’s not such an easy choice when you have the Stasi and Grenzers breathing down your neck because of who your father is. Anyways, I’m done with complaining it’s time to work. I found the house my dad and brother had given me. It is right in the middle of the Death Strip, of course. I would need a distraction so the police wouldn’t think I was up to something. I don't know if a 12 year old girl like me could out-smart people who spend their whole lives training to catch people who did something wrong, even the slightest and smallest things. It’s going to have to be the best thing I have ever done. All I learn in school is how to follow the rules and not do anything different, so I’m going to have to leave that behind and do the opposite. Until next time diary, time to dig.

Gerta

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Informational Piece

“I pulled my curtains apart, expecting the worst. But when I looked out, my heart slammed into my throat. Not even the darkest part of my imagination could have prepared me for this. It was Sunday, August 13, 1961, a day I would remember for the rest of my life. When a prison had been built around us as we slept.”


This was a monumental moment in the book. Barbed Wire Sunday was the day that started the building of the Berlin Wall and was the end of the people of East Berlin’s hope for a better future. Gerta Lowe was woken up to see a wire wall being set as a foundation for the Berlin Wall and she also knew that this was going to split her family in half and there wasn’t much she could do about it . It symbolizes a day of sadness for everyone but for Gerta it was a day that started her drive and determination to have her family whole again.
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Work Cited

"Adolf Hitler." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016. <http://www.biography.com/people/adolf-hitler-9340144>.

""Barbed Wire Sunday'': The Day the Berlin Wall Went up." The Sydney Morning Herald. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016. <http://www.smh.com.au/world/barbed-wire-sunday-the-day-the-berlin-wall-went-up-20090811-eglw.html>.

"Berlin Is Divided." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016. <http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/berlin-is-divided>.

"The Berlin Wall: A Secret History." History Today. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016. <http://www.historytoday.com/frederick-taylor/berlin-wall-secret-history>.

Cameron, Joel D. "Stasi." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016. <http://www.britannica.com/topic/Stasi>.

"Checkpoint Charlie - History of Berlin Wall." Checkpoint Charlie - History of Berlin Wall. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016. <http://www.dailysoft.com/berlinwall/history/checkpoint-charlie.htm>.

"The Cold War in Germany: Decoded 1945 - 1994." : East German Grenztruppen Der DDR Oberstleutnant's Uniform. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016. <http://reflectionsofcoldwar.blogspot.com/2012/07/east-german-grenztruppen-der-ddr-majors.html>.

Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-iGh7bkJAgjg/UPwiWZK8RpI/AAAAAAAAGUU/0j16obLwX4g/s1600/barbed+wire+children.jpg>.

Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://cryptome.org/eyeball/border-wall/pict82.jpg>.

Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://ias.umn.edu/wp-content/upLoads/2014/11/berlin-wall-kuftinec-2.jpg>.

Klein, Christopher. "10 Things You May Not Know About the Berlin Wall." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 07 Nov. 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2016. <http://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-berlin-wall>.

Notes


    Stasi


    Quote

    secret police organization





    Death Strip


    Quote

    contained hundreds of watchtowers, miles of anti-vehicle trenches, guard dog runs, floodlights and trip-wire machine guns.





    Sunday August 13, 1961


    Quote

    This is the day that the Soviets started building the Berlin Wall in the middle of the night aka Barbed Wire Sunday





    Communist Grey


    Quote

    from what i found it isnt real and it is used for effect in the book





    Checkpoint Charlie


    Quote

    crossing point between East and West Berlin, it is the most well known





    Adolf Hitler


    Quote

    Leader of the Nazi in Germany, he was also the the chancellor of Germany from 1933-1945





    Grenztruppen


    Quote

    they are the border guards that stand on and around the Berlin Wall