What this book is about:
Gerta, a 12-year-old living in East Berlin after the war, wakes up one morning to discover the Berlin wall has been erected overnight. Her father and brother are on the other side of the wall, leaving her with her oldest brother and mother.
What I liked:
The story eventually really gripped me and refused to let go. The writing is fantastic, the short chapters made me feel like I was ripping through it (which I was, I read it in a morning), and the pacing was perfect.
The characters were well rounded, I thought, and it gave a chilling look into life at that time.
What I didn’t like:
The story was slow to start. After the first two chapters, I wasn’t sure I really wanted to read it, but I’d started it and so I felt really compelled to keep reading. I’m glad I did, but I think the start could have had a little more…something. Not sure what. It just didn’t grab me until 4 or 5 chapters in.
Overall thoughts and opinions:
This was an interesting book for me to read given the U.S.’s current political climate, and while I vehemently stay away from anything remotely political here, I couldn’t help but think about some claims made by some people about the political climate today. I felt really grateful that my neighbors aren’t spying on me, waiting to report my activities to the authorities, who could whisk me away to my death without so much as a single piece of credible evidence. We have the freedom to complain about anyone and everyone in government in our homes and on the internet with no concern about our safety or our family’s safety.
This story was really well written (which I’d expect from this author) in it portrayed the paranoia and terror of the people living under such rule, which continues in some countries even today!
Anyway, back to the story – Gerta didn’t feel 12 to me in the story, she definitely felt older, but I don’t hang out around with too many 12 year olds. The story felt believable and the tension rose all the way to the end. Masterfully written, I recommend this book to anyone, 12 and up certainly. If we don’t remember history, we are bound to repeat it and our culture is very susceptible to forgetting history very quickly.
Even with the rough start, I still give it five stars.