A Night Divided Review and Homeschool Study Ideas

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A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen is a suspenseful historical fiction book that takes place in East Germany when the Berlin Wall was built. This book immerses the reader in the dangerous realities of this period in a suspenseful and believable way.

This historical fiction book was appealing to my book club students, even the readers who aren’t typically fans of this genre. I think the suspenseful storytelling made this one a hit!

I am so glad I chose this title for my Online Middle School Monthly Fiction Book Club in February 2024.

This book review of A Night Divided includes discussion questions and ideas for your homeschool study.

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A Night Divided

Jennifer A. Nielsen

Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 352 pages
First Published: 2018

A Night Divided book review

View on Amazon | View on Goodreads

Publisher’s Description: A Night Divided

“With the rise of the Berlin Wall, Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. 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, 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 on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Gerta concludes that her father wants her 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?”

My Goodreads Review

The night the Berlin Wall rises, Gerta and her family are divided. Her father and younger brother are on the west side, living in freedom, while Gerta, her mother, and her older brother are at the family home on the East side living under Soviet control. Years will pass before Gerta spots her father on the other side of the wall trying to communicate with her. She believes he wants her to dig a tunnel and despite all of the dangers involved, Gerta and her brother, Fritz, decide to take a chance.

This is one of my favorite middle-grade historical fiction books. The author does a wonderful job of immersing the reader into the setting of East Berlin – the secret police, the rules, the organizations, and the constant grayness.

The setting is a natural way to build suspense because the main character doesn’t know who to trust, but the author builds even more with the plot and the writing technique. Almost every chapter ends with an emotional line, a bit of foreshadowing, or a climatic moment – all of which keep the reader going. By the end, everything that can go wrong begins to go wrong and the suspense is non-stop.

I found the characters believable and honest. It was easy to get caught up in their story as I read, even the third time I read it. It is fantastic every single time.

My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

A Night Divided Discussion questions to discuss with your children.

A Night Divided: Discussion Questions for Your Homeschool Study

1. In East Germany it wasn’t easy to trust people. Who did Gerta have difficulty trusting and why? Who did she have no choice but to trust?

2. Gerta has to take risks throughout the story. Do you think all of the risks were worthwhile? Why or why not?

3. Look up some of the Elements of Historical Fiction. Does this book include these elements? One important element of historical fiction is the historical setting. Did you feel immersed in the historical setting as you read the book?

For more ideas to discuss this book with your kids, check out my book chat:

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Find the best fiction books for 11-13 year olds on this list. These books are great for your middle school child.

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