From New York Times 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 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, 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 went through a phase when I was 11-13 where I could not get my hands on enough WWII books. I thought they were so interesting and I loved reading The Diary of Anne Frank, Night by Elie Wiesel, and Number of the Stars by Lois Lowry. I know it’s kind of morbid to be fascinated with that but I couldn’t believe that the Holocaust and life was that horrible! I never even thought about how the Berlin Wall affected people. This novel was an eye opener.
I love how the main character Gerta was so strong in her convictions. She knew right from wrong and owned up when she knew she had done something that wasn’t right. But she also knew she had to do some wrong in order to be reunited with her dad and brother in West Berlin.
Gerta’s mom wore me out in this novel. I understand why she did what she did and why she reasoned the way she did but good lord woman! You have another child over there! I’m glad she understood the importance of right and wrong at the end. I hated seeing her being so weak against the Stasi and Grenzers. What horrible people!
And Mueller… I feel like his part in the novel was poetic justice. The end with him and Gerta was heartbreaking but he was so mean! How threatens a little girl??? She’s obviously no match for a grown man.
It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for a happy ending and this novel gave me everything you could want out a book. Suspense, character growth, love, historical accuracy, and and understanding. I wanted to jump for joy at the end of this one. I was rooting for Gerta and Fritz the entire novel. I think this could be a great book to film adaption. I know a lot of families who endured WWII, the Berlin Wall, and the Holocaust did not have a happy ending but this book made me happy to see young girl stay true to herself and to her family. I think she has a lot to offer kids. I would definitely read this book in my class to teach tolerance, working hard, perseverance, and staying true to yourself and to what’s right.