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Where are my Alan Gratz fans? This one will be right up your alley!
What is this book about?
Sixteen year old Gerta finds her life completely torn apart when the Berlin Wall goes up in the middle of the night, separating her mother, older brother, and herself from her father and younger brother.
Having gone to West Berlin in search of work, they find themselves unable to return to their home and family in the East. Stuck in East Berlin under the thumb of the strict and domineering Soviet controlled government, Gerta fears she may never see her brother and father again.
Five years later, on the way to school, Gerta spots her father on a raised platform on the West side of the wall and is convinced he is pantomiming her a message. Over the coming days and weeks Gerta embarks on a dangerous plan, one which would mean certain death if discovered by the soldiers who occupy East Berlin, but if successful could mean freedom and reuniting her family together.
I’ll admit I really haven’t read much about this period of time in history and found this one a fascinating read. As a product of the 80s I had of course heard of and known some of the Berlin Wall history, I remember the magazine covers from the 90’s when it was finally torn down and the two sides reunited.
What I had not realized or considered was the fact that it completely severed family ties. While Gertas own story is fictional, hers represents so many who were separated from loved ones. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and the list goes on. Entire generations of families split up. What a heartbreaking thought.
Much like the main characters of Gratz’s novels, Gerta was tenacious and courageous. She never accepted her lot in life, much as her mother tried to convince her to. She showed bravery few adults could muster in the face of actual life and death situations.
The entire novel was so well written. The reader really got a great sense of life inside the walls of East Berlin, my heart quickened with every close encounter Gerta, her mother, and her brother Fritz faced. There was plenty of action and tension that made it hard to even put down, so be prepared to abandon all sense of responsibility once you start this one.
This one is good for adult and middle graders alike and is sure to keep you on your toes.
This one gets 5 stars!!!
Maybe you’ll even a learn a thing about history along the way!
Until next week!