cover image A Night Divided

A Night Divided

Jennifer A. Nielsen. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-545-68242-8

Eight-year-old Gerta awakens one morning to a fence cleaving her family in two—her father and one of her brothers were on a trip to West Berlin while the rest of the family became trapped in the East. Four years later, the Berlin Wall has become a harsh reality, but a secret message from her father, hidden in a silly dance, gives Gerta hope and a plan for escape: tunneling to freedom. Like Anne Frank before her, Gerta is small but mighty, a hardheaded heroine who dreams up big ideas and refuses to give up in the face of adversity and danger. Nielsen (Mark of the Thief) evokes the constant unease of life in a divided Berlin through Gerta’s sober narration, as she struggles with death, lying to survive, and underground obstacles like burst pipes, but the family never loses sight of the power of humility and forgiveness. As the architect of her family’s freedom, Gerta memorably demonstrates that survival is possible even in the bleakest of circumstances. Ages 8–12. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (Aug.)