A Night Divided

Written by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Published by Scholastic Inc., 2015

ISBN: 9780545915960

Genre: Historical Fiction


A Night Divided is about a young girl named Gerta living in East Berlin who wakes up to see the Berlin Wall in her city, built overnight. If this weren't bad enough, her father and her brother are on the other side of the Wall after going to look for work. Gerta tries to stop herself from looking at it or speaking of freedom, as it'd be deadly, but she can't help herself. One day, when riskily looking at the Wall, she sees her father performing a peculiar dance on a platform. She then receives a mysterious drawing and puts two and two together. Her father wants her and her oldest brother, Fritz, to create a tunnel underneath the Wall, which could result in their death.

I, personally, thought the book was amazing. One thing I would wish to note about this book is the portrayal of the family and lack of subtle stereotyping. I've read several books with German families in them, and the portrayal always seems to make them very far from what they actually are. The family in this book acted like you would expect a family to. Loving with many ups and downs. It actually felt realistic and didn't feel like it was pigeonholing their culture. Gerta was also a very well written character with expected flaws for someone her age and in her situation. She messes up a lot and isn't overly rebellious. They didn't make her and every other character a robot like most books with Germans around this time period do. The characters who did seem like sheep acted like it out of fear, which is way more historically accurate than assuming they were a-okay with everything. I also believe the word choice in this story was brilliant. The author didn't go overboard, but she didn't dumb it down. Overall, this is a great book, and I strongly recommend it, even if you dislike historical fiction.

Professional Reviews:

Further Explorations

  • Want to learn more about the Wall interactively? Here's an interactive Berlin Wall with videos.
  • If you prefer to read to gain information, here's an article on the day the Berlin Wall was built and the history that followed.
  • Here's a video on the Berlin Wall.
  • Here is a map of Germany during the Cold War, if you like visuals.
  • Here is another article discussing the day Berliners woke up to the Wall.

Partner Titles

Works Cited

"1961: Berliners Wake to Divided City." BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

"Berlin Wall Built." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

"Berlin Wall Exclusive Videos & Features." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

"Berlin Wall Interactive - The Passionate Eye." CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 10 Apr. 2013. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

Book Review: 'A Night Divided' Explores Post-WWII Germany. Digital image. N.p., 7 Sept. 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.

"Divisions of Germany During the Cold War." N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

Freya on the Wall. Digital image. Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

Lewis and Clark - Ms. Leisure: Between Shades of Gray. Digital image. Between Shades of Gray. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

"A NIGHT DIVIDED by Jennifer A. Nielsen | Kirkus Reviews." Kirkus Reviews. N.p., 6 June 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.

"A Night Divided." Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.

Sektion 20. Digital image. OverDrive. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.