A Night Divided

By, Jennifer Nielsen

Annotated Book Review

The book, A Night Divided, created by Jennifer A. Nelsen is a terrific Historical Fiction novel. Jennifer A. Nielsen is the USA Today and New York Times for the Ascendance Trilogy and New York Times bestselling author of, The False Prince. A Night Divided, is about a 12 year old girl named Gerta who wants to escape the Eastern side of the Berlin Wall to meet again with her brother, Dominic, and her father. She must dig beneath the wall to get to the Western side, but if she gets caught, the consequences will be deadly. This book was really fascinating, had good cliff hangers, and was overall a great book to read so that once you step in, there is no backing out.

One day Gerta woke up to realize that the Berlin Wall had been set up and her father and brother were on the other side. Gerta would do anything to get to the other side of the wall, even if it meant she had to dig 100 meters under the wall. People she was once fond of will be turned against her, and if anyone finds out, she will be sent to jail away from her family, or worse. With the rise of the Berlin Wall, everything that happened in the story was because of it. Every word in the book was clearly thought out and helped make everything interesting. The author (Jennifer A. Nielsen) made sure everything made since even when it didn’t. Every chapter ended with a cliff hanger that made me want to read more. For most of the story, all Gerta wanted was to escape and have a normal life on the other side of the wall. She knew she would have much more freedom and be able to say what she wanted. But, most of all, she would be reunited with her father and brother again. When she sees her brother on the platform across the wall, everything turns around for her. She is going to try to do the impossible and danger lurks around every corner.

Jennifer made sure the historical setting of the novel was obvious and known. She made sure to use words that the Germans would have used during the Berlin Wall. Such as Grenzers, which is the nickname for their border police, Grenztruppen. There was also many dates of when important things happened. For example, the day that the barbed wired fence, also known as the Berlin Wall, got put up, which was August 13, 1961. What I most loved about the novel was Gerta’s ambition to leave the eastern side of Berlin. No matter what, her longing to be free wasn’t quenched. She would do anything, even if it was life risking. What was most bothering about A Night Divided was probably how Gerta could not catch on to what her father asked of her. When she found out where to go and where to dig, she continued to believe that her father had a treasure buried there. She kept on giving up and saying there was no hope. I, as a reader, thought it was very obvious that her father wanted her to dig her way out of Eastern Berlin. The author could have made Gerta find out a little sooner than she did. Other than that, everything was laid out perfectly which made for a great, nerve-racking novel.

My overall opinion of this novel is high. I have always been a fan of the historical period of World War Two and the Berlin Wall and this book made me feel like I was actually experiencing the emotions Gerta was going through. I could feel the sadness of her father detached from her, the hopelessness of being stuck on the eastern side, and the nerve-racking feeling of digging her way out. Everything was just so surreal. This gave me a true inside look of what it felt like with the Berlin Wall up. If I were to rate this book, I would definitely give it a five star rating. There was many details (but not an overwhelming amount) and so many realistic facts that Gerta did that I haven’t experienced in a book for a while. It was a novel that was disappointing to have ended because you just want to have more. I would definitely recommend this to all of my friends, especially those who enjoy the inside facts of WWII and the Berlin Wall.

Historical Accuracy of Novel

In A Night Divided, all of the details put together were what made the novel interesting. Without all of the historical facts, the book wouldn’t have the same appealing sense. There were enough details to keep the book fascinating, but not so much that it got overwhelming. Almost all of the facts were true, there was only one fact that seemed to be fictitious. In the book, Gerta says that the Germans called all the greyness around them, Communist Grey. She says, “It was the color of our buildings, our markets, our streets. The color of the wall. Even the skies were grey today”. According to all of the sites, there was no such thing as Communist Grey. All of the other facts seemed to be historically accurate. Such as, the GDR. The GDR was East Berlins communist government (German Democratic Republic). Their secret police force was the Stasi. It was very interesting to hear what they would do and what they got away with. Other than that and a few other things, I feel that the novel could have used a little bit more historical facts. All of the facts were placed at the beginning of the book, not spread throughout. It would have made the book a little more interesting to find something out I didn’t know. Other than that, all of the places they traveled to were historically accurate and did not have any added details that were not even a part of that time.
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Key Historical Topic

“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.”

One key part of this novel was the rise of the Berlin Wall. Without this element, everything that happened in this book would have been for nothing. The rise of the Berlin Wall happened overnight on August 13, 1961. The wall was created in order to keep the communist East Berlin from taking over West Berlin. Two days after the barbed wired fence was built, cutting off East Berlin from West Berlin, the government began to build the concrete wall to completely shut off East Berlin from the rest of the world for the next 28 years. It became almost impossible to escape and trying promised almost certain death. Grenzers and secret police forces guarded the wall and kept their eyes on individuals who may be “traitors”. Many people started referring to the border line strip as the, “Death Strip”, because of trying to escape there had deadly consequences and once again, promised certain death. After 28 years of depressed silence, the wall fell on November 9, 1989. That was the day the East Berliners were free to travel to the West and say what they pleased. That was the day Germany was reunited.

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Diary Intry From Gerta

Dear Diary,

I don’t know what to do anymore. I tried to warn mother that we should just listen to father. Now we are separated from father and Dominic for good. There is now a fence between me and my father ever hugging again. Mother seems to be taking it much too lightly and I can’t help but getting angry at her. This is a time for remorse or finding a way to tear the fence down, not asking if I’d rather have bacon or sausage for breakfast. Fritz isn’t helping either. He can only shoot me stern glances whenever I even mention father or Dominic. Oh, what I would do just to inhale the lemon fresh cologne, with the hint of coffee he has every morning. What I would do just to see his face! There is many secret ways out of East Berlin but of course, mother must find a way to shoot the idea down. I don’t know how, but I will see father again, somehow…