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Book review: 'A Night Divided' explores post-WWII Germany

"A NIGHT DIVIDED," by Jennifer A. Nielsen, Scholastic, $16.99, 336 pages (f) (ages 8-12)

Gerta’s family is divided into East and West after the Berlin Wall goes up practically overnight in "A Night Divided" by Utah author Jennifer A. Nielsen.

Gerta, her mother and her brother Fritz remain on the east side in their home, while her father and middle brother are trapped on the west side, unable to return home. With the rise of the wall, conditions change rapidly for Gerta and her family, and she finds herself looking for ways to escape. With nearly no one she can trust, Gerta is left with the dangerous task of reuniting her family.

In this novel released in August, Jennifer A. Nielsen branches out from the familiar fantasy genre that has given her success, including her Ascendance trilogy.

This take on life in Germany after World War II is interesting and timely given the immigration crises in the United States and parts of Europe today. Gerta represents so many Eastern Europeans who found themselves divided from their families and desperate to get back.

"A Night Divided" is interesting in spite of some confusing decisions by Gerta and her mother, as well as some pacing issues. While the beginning of the narrative outlines the trouble in East Germany, especially with food scarcity and nosy neighbors, much of the rest of the novel is dedicated to the escape. The ending in particular had some moments that didn’t feel natural or felt a bit contrived to increase tension.

Look to this novel to provide younger readers a glimpse into life in Germany after the armistice agreement. It’s a timely subject and one that can be overlooked.

"A Night Divided" does have some tense scenes, but with little to no descriptive violence, foul language or sexual content. It’s a stand-alone novel with no planned follow-ups or sequels.

If you go ...

What: Jennifer A. Nielsen book signing

When: Wednesday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com, jennielsen.com

Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the featured book from The King's English.

Also ...

What: Jennifer A. Nielsen is one of more than 40 authors scheduled for Authorpalooza

When: Saturday, Sept. 19, 1-4 p.m.

Where: Barnes & Noble, 10180 S. State St., Sandy

Web: barnesandnoble.com

Emily Ellsworth is a blogger at Emily's Reading Room, where she has been writing about all things reading since 2009. For book reviews, author interviews and more about the latest in young adult fiction, visit her blog at emilysreadingroom.com.