A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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“I didn’t want to be angry but sometimes it was the only emotion I understood. I missed my father singing to me at bedtime and the earthy smell of his coat before he left for work each morning. Sometimes, he snuck a kiss from my mother when he thought no one was looking and it always made me giggle. I even missed Dominic. The way he used to tease me and hide my dolls and jump out from behind corners to scare me – those were good memories now.”

Nielsen, Jennifer A. A Night DividedScholastic Press. 2015. 317 pages. Hardcover. $16.99, ISBN 978-0-545-68242-8

What would you do if you woke up one morning and found a fence dividing your country? That’s exactly what happened to Gerta. The East German government built a fence in the night to divide East Germany from West Germany. If that wasn’t bad enough, Gerta’s dad and brother Dominic were in West Germany looking for an apartment and a job so that the family could move. Now, they can’t get in and Gerta, her mom and brother, Fritz, can’t get out. Fast forward four years.  Times are not good. There is a food shortage. The Stasi, a secret police force, have bugged Greta’s house and have files on her and Fritz. Fritz is going to be forced to join the military. But what can they do? Those who have attempted to cross the fence have died trying. One day, Greta spots her brother, Dominic on a viewing platform on the other side of the fence. Later her father appears. He’s acting out a song he used to sing to her when she was young. He is emphasizing the digging part. What is he trying to tell her? Will this be the answer Greta and her family have been looking for? Read to find out. I think you will like this book. I did!


Link to WorldCat .org listing 

Link to Amazon.com listing (Available in Hardcover, paperback, Kindle and Audible)

Image Courtesy of Amazon.com

Jennifer Nielsen’s Website


  • 2016-17 Tome Society List
  • Top 2015 Mighty Girl Books for Teen and Tweens List
  • 2015 AML Finalist
  • 2015 double Whitney Award winner for Best Middle Grade book and for Best Overall Youth Novel.
  • State List nominations: California Young Readers Award (17-18); Illinois Rebecca Caudil Award (17-18); Maine Student Book Award (16-17); Maryland Black-eyed Susan Book Award (17-18); Missouri Truman Award (17-18); Nebraska Golden Sower Award (17-18); New Hampshire Great Stone Face Award (16-17); Oregon Battle of the Books (16-17); Texas Lone Star (16-17); *South Dakota Young Adult Readers Award (16-17); *Utah Beehive Book Award (16-17); Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award (16-17); Middle School Virginia Readers Choice (17-18); *Wyoming Indian paintbrush Award (16-17) *Winner
  • 2016 ILA-CBC Children’s Choices List

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Cover of "The Book Thief"

Cover of The Book Thief courtesy of Amazon.com

Liesel stole her first book before she could even read, this stolen book was the book she learned to read with. Books and reading were what bonded her to her foster family, her neighbors, and the Jew that they were hiding in their basement and what helped them all to survive.
Zusak, Markus. The Book ThiefAlfred A. Knopf. 2005. 552 pages. paperback. $11.99, ISBN 978-0-375-84220-7
A very compassionate narrator, Death, weaves together this moving story about Liesel Meminger, a young girl growing up in Nazi Germany. Liesel steals her first book at the funeral of her younger brother. This is where the story and Liesel’s love affair with books begins. Hans Huberman, her foster father, teaches her to read and this is what strengthened their relationship. These reading lessons are also what helped her get through her nightmare filled nights. This love of books and reading also  helped forge a strong bond with Max, the Jew they are hiding in their basement. When all the neighbors gathered in a basement to protect them from the bombings, it was her reading that helped keep everyone calm. The Book Thief is a story of love, courage, friendship, loss and survival. Who knew one Grave Diggers Manual could change so many lives.I highly recommend this book for all readers aged 12 and up. This book reminded me of an adult historical fiction, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Both books feature a town affected by the Nazi’s but who are not directly involved in the fight and both show heroism, compassion for others, and the power of books. A story of courage, love, friendship, and hope, The Book Thief is a great read if you enjoy historical fiction.Link to WorldCat .org listing 

Link to Amazon.com listing

Available in:



Audio CD

Kindle Edition

Book Trailer:

Courtesy of YouTube.com
Markus Zusak Website
Facebook Account
Twitter Account
Check out this link for a podcast of an interview with Markus Zusak:
The Book of Life Gets Caught Reading, May 2006


2007 Michael L. Printz Honor for Excellence in Young Adult Literature
2007 Notable Book for a Global Society award winner
2007 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
2007 Sydney Taylor
2006 Kathleen Mitchell Award
2006 Quill Book Award in the Young Adult Literature category

© Chris Peeler 2013