Book Review: A Night Divided

February 16, 2016

A Night Divided
Jennifer Nielsen
336 pages

From the Publisher:

From NYT bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen comes a stunning thriller about a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west.

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. 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, cannot 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; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.

But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and 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?


I had a friend tell me about this book a few months ago and it sounded really interesting. Books recommended by this friend are always spot on for me – so I knew this one would be one I would enjoy.  (don’t you love it when you find a friend like that?)  I’m hit and miss with our library digital loan services, but I decided to put a request on this book, then I forgot all about it.  But a few weeks ago I got an email saying the audible version was available to check out!

Let me back up to say: I’m not normally a fan of audio books.  In the past I have tried them and I have a really hard time focusing on them.  I’ve tried running while listening and it just never seems to work for me.  I don’t find it as enjoyable as sitting down and actually reading the words on a page.  But the I’ve recently started listening to podcasts…I listen to them in the morning while I’m at work and I listen to them while I get read in the morning.  I’ve found it’s nice to sometimes have something to listen too and to give my brain something to think about!  Since I already figured this book would be a favorite (because of my friends recommendation), I figured I might as well try listening to it.  No harm done if I didn’t like it.  I could always just find the book and read it.

Short and sweet: I loved this book – and I really was surprised that I didn’t mind listening to it either! I actually was hooked after the first couple minutes and found myself listening to it in my car and at home too.  Since the book is geared towards 8-12 year olds I didn’t have to worry either – anytime the kids heard the story they would ask questions and I would fill them in.  They seemed really fascinated with the story.  Their dad is currently reading the Beyonders series by Brandon Mull to them, but when they finish that I can’t wait to share this book with them they they can hear the whole story.  My kids (particularly my older two boys) really love fantasy type books.  I am interested to see what they would think of a realistic fiction.  They had a lot of questions when they would catch snippets of the book as I listened to it.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know a lot about the Cold War or the Berlin Wall before reading this book.  I was nine when the wall came down.  That is the age of my second son now. He doesn’t really pay much attention to news… I have some vague memories of it, but I didn’t really understand it at the time. I’m sure it was covered in a history class somewhere in my education.  But I just hadn’t put much thought in it until now.  This book really sparked me into researching and learning more about the Cold War and events that happened in Europe during that time.  It was also really interesting to learn and hear this story from Gerta’s perspective.  My oldest is almost the age of Gerta in the book.  I tried to envision what he would do if faced with this situation.  Would he be able to do what Gerta did? Would I even be able to do it now?

I haven’t read any of Jennifer Neilsen’s other books, but they are now on my growing TBR list.  I believe a lot more of her books are even fantasy type books that I know my boys would love – so that’s a big bonus! I love finding another author that I think our entire family will enjoy!

I’m counting this book as my “Book that is set in Europe” towards my 16 in 16 challenge.  Although, I’ll be honest with you – I’ve read about 6 books in the past month that could all count towards that category.  But I’m picking this book because it sparked so much interest and gave me something to really research and learn about.

Like I said, I really enjoyed this book.  It gave me so much to think about, question and sparked some research and learning on my part.  I love when a book does more than just tell a story, but gives me something to learn about.  Plus – the added bonus is I am now hooked on listening to audio books! (Currently I’m listening to The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, which is another fascinating war story set in Europe…not one to listen to with your kids, but I seriously am loving it!)

Have you read this book?  You can grab a copy on Amazon, HERE.  Even though I borrowed the audio version of this book from the library, I wouldn’t mind having it in my real library too.  You always know when I love a book when I read a borrowed version and end up getting a real version for our home library too.

I would love to know what you thought.

Final Score:

5 stars

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1 Comment

  1. Reply


    Awesome! I’m so glad you liked it. I’m so glad you are one of those friends that I can always find a good book with too! 🙂

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