A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

In this book we meet Gerta, an 8 year old girl in East Berlin. A couple of days before, her father and younger brother left to explore opportunities in West Berlin. Unfortunately, while they are gone the Berlin Wall goes up, separating them. She, along with her mother and older brother are on the side that is controlled by the Soviets while her father and younger brother are on the side that is free. A couple of months later the existing guarded fence becomes a 7 foot high concrete wall with watchtowers and guards with vicious dogs.  There is no way for Gerta and her remaining family to escape to West Berlin. Four years later, she still feels hopeless, until she sees her father pantomiming a dance on a platform on the other side. With that dance in mind, she forms a plan to escape with her remaining family. Will she succeed?

I liked this book because of the well thought out storyline and the suspenseful chapters. I enjoyed how the author described Gerta’s feelings. I felt that I was her in some parts of the book and gained insight into a horrifying time in history.

 

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A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

This book is made up of two stories. One is about Salva, a Sudanese “Lost Boy” whose story is set in 1985. When Salva’s village Loun-Ariik gets attacked by rebels, he is ordered to hide. He then finds thousands of other boys in the same predicament: no family, food, or water. He walks with these boys to a refugee camp, but eventually gets kicked out. He then has to go to another refugee camp, and another, then another. Finally, Salva gets sent to America, what will he find?

The other story is about Nya, set in 2008. She walks 8 hours everyday to fetch water for her family. When Nya’s sister falls sick because of the dirty water, her family makes the strenuous 3 day walk to a medical clinic. They arrive just in time and Akeer is saved. When the family gets back to their village, they find that a well is being built. It will change Nya’s life forever.

It is enlightening to see the characters grow and change after a tragic event. I also liked the fact that there were two related but distinct stories in the book. I really enjoy the author’s descriptive style because she let me really get to know the characters’ strengths and weaknesses.

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Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

In this book we meet Sophie, who is an orphan. Everyone tells her her mother died in the shipwreck that she survived when she was 2 years old, but Sophie remembers her mother clearly. When the child welfare agency tries to send her to an orphanage, she and her guardian Charles Maxim go to Paris to find her mother. The only clue she has, which is the address of her mother’s cello maker, leads her to a whole bunch of clues and a community of hidden people. What will she find? I liked this book because of the intricate plot and excellent descriptions of the characters.

 

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Katherine’s Story by Adele Whitby

In the book Katherine’s Story, Lady Katherine and her sister Lady Elizabeth travel across the sea from England to America with their father and their lady’s maid Essie Bridges. Once in America with their cousin’s family, the Vandemeers, Katherine and Elizabeth meet Ms. DuMay who is going to marry Henry Vandemeer. Everyone is excited for the wedding until suddenly the portrait of Henry’s first wife goes missing and it is found in Ms. DuMay’s son’s hands. The wedding is called off but Katherine and Elizabeth are determined to find the portrait and save the wedding. Will they succeed?

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