A Night Divided
Jennifer A. Nielsen
With the sudden rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family divided overnight. She, her mother and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, are unable to return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can’t help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens, watching for any sign of escape. Gerta, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.
But one day, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side of the wall, pantomiming a peculiar dance. She concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?
Excerpt taken from back cover.
Alcohol, Drugs, Smoking
A German Stasi officer smokes two cigarettes during a questioning.
Intimacy, Sex, Immodesty
Violence, Weapons, Crime, Blood
When the fence went up, people tried to get through or around it. Some people drove cars through the barbed wire, some swam canals where the barbed wire didn’t reach. A woman tried jumping out of a building onto a mattress that lead her to the other side but the mattress wasn’t enough to protect her from the concrete ground. Her death is implied.
The Stasi and Grenzer officers always carry rifles with them, even on mundane assignments.
A young college man attempted to escape the East in a car with a special compartment but he was discovered and shot. Another young man was taken by the Stasi for questioning because of their friendship. He comes home with a large bruise on his face from a Stasi officer hitting him. More injuries, both mental and physical, are implied.
A Stasi officer slaps a young girl across the face.
An elderly man is arrested for publishing his own words. He is later dumped out of the back of a van beaten and bruised.
A Stasi officer holds a gun to a brother and sister and threatens to shoot them. At one point the young girl is thrown to the ground and aims the gun directly at her.
The body of an elderly man is taken out of his house by officers which implies it was not an accident.
There are a handful of arrests and the people getting arrested are yelling and fighting the officers.
A young man is shot in the leg.
A gun is pointed at a young girl. A man grabs the gun to save the girl and she runs then hears a gunshot and his body hit the ground. The girl runs back for him and drags his body. He has been shot in the chest and blood is getting on her. He then dies in her arms.
Potentially Intense Themes
The Berlin Wall is built and is the basis of the book. It was erected with no warning.
A German officer threatens a young girl by using the tip of his gun to rub against her cheek and under her chin if she waves to people across the wall.
Many means were taken by the soldiers to discourage approaching the wall. There were large trenches in some parts, smooth dirt in others (for soldiers to easily follow anyone that approaches) and so on. Soldiers were ordered to shoot to on sight and to shoot to kill. TV had shown soldiers carrying dead bodies proving this fact.
A family’s house is bugged and they learn they are the reason a friend is dead.
There are multiple situations where a brother and/or sister put themselves or their family in jeopardy with the Stasi officers. Places where they will be seen after curfew, or doing things the officers would arrest them for or trying to play the facade that the officers need to hear for the microphones or neighbors to see to maintain their reputation. They live in constant fear of being caught for their crimes.