Gerta wakes up one morning to find that a heavily defended wall divides her country. Her father and brother are caught on one side of the Berlin Wall while she, her mother, and other brother, Fritz, remain at home in a land where even bananas are a freedom not to be had. Desiring a better life on the western side of the wall, Gerta and Fritz risk their lives to build a tunnel to freedom and their family. Along the way, they must reconcile white lies, true friends, and false enemies. The ending seems unrealistic even for historical fiction, but maybe I just need to read more about the Berlin Wall. I kept hoping for a slightly stronger historical background and faster-paced novel—there is a lot of digging—but overall, A Night Divided introduces young readers to a piece of history and feelings that they may not be familiar with. Kate Simses successfully manages to portray the extremely strong-willed, intelligent, 12-year-old Gerta. I do love that Gerta is a robust female protagonist, and I would suggest this title for fourth to seventh grade readers, more so for conceptual understanding and content versus vocabulary.
A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen & read by Kate Simses (Scholastic, 2015)