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A Night Divided
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Night Divided by Jenniefer A. Nielsen (the Ascendance trilogy) is a stunning, provocative, and suspenseful book about a 12-year-old girl who helps plot her family's escape from 1960s East Berlin, just after the Berlin Wall has been erected. It involves a family separated, political unrest, a handful of deaths with some graphic descriptions, thorny questions about right and wrong, and the challenging of unjust laws during periods of political upheaval. Using historical facts to frame the narrative, it provides a deeply humanizing portrait of one the Cold War's cruelest divisions.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Gerta's father and brother Dominique have just left East Berlin amid growing unrest to seek an apartment in the West, when the Berlin Wall is erected over the weekend. Now divided, with increasing suspicions about each family member's activities and neighbors and friends who can no longer be trusted, Greta, her mother, and her other brother Fritz must keep theirs heads down while they plot the best way to reunite their family, all the while debating the very notion of what it means to be truly free.
Is it any good?
This powerful book humanizes historical events by creating a story about people's struggle to live with autonomy and their efforts to live honorably in an unjust system. A NIGHT DIVIDED is fast-paced and simply written, and it moves the complex story along in an engaging way without getting bogged down in the history. Author Jennifer A. Nielsen weaves in the geopolitical factors that led to the creation of the Berlin Wall and shows why people had divided loyalties -- to Germany, Russia, their own city, and even at times their own families.
The result is an incredibly thoughtful, provocative, and very human look at a distant moment in history that will raise interesting questions for readers about what it means to be free and how we define the good life, all with a deeply nuanced understanding of what it means to do the "right" thing in complicated situations where not only political alliances but lives, futures, and happiness all are at stake. But even if you weren't interested in any of that, it still offers a fascinating, suspenseful tale of a thoughtful, courageous 12-year-old girl's determination to escape an oppressive life for something better.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why historical fiction is so popular. What makes you want to read fictional stories set during real-life events?
Is it OK that, to do a little right, we have to do a little wrong? Why, or why not?
How do some of the families in A Night Divided define "a good life"? Is there such a thing as being "a little bit free"?
- Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, History
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Press
- Publication date: August 25, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Themes & Topics
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For kids who love history
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.