Going OverSpring 2014 Historical Fiction
The setting for this extraordinary novel is divided Berlin, in 1983. 15-year-old Ada lives in West Berlin, squatting in a small apartment with her mother and grandmother, while her boyfriend Stefan lives with his grandmother in the East. The two have grown up together, in a way, through a handful of yearly visits from Ada's grandmother to Stefan's -- a longtime friendship separated by the wall.
Stefan and Ada's only chance to be together is for Stefan to escape, but it's a life-threatening endeavor.
Readers unfamiliar with the political and historical backdrop of Berlin will quickly absorb it from Beth Kephart's acutely sharp writing and breathtaking details. The language and vivid imagery are exquisite. Smells, sounds and colors pop off the page while the dark barb-wired wall (and the Stassi who patrol it) hovers menacingly.
Ada and Stefan tell their stories in alternating chapters, from their different perspectives, but there are many other stories, too. There are the perilous lives of the Turkish women imported to work in the West Berlin factories, Henni who runs the daycare and knows when to be worried, and Herr Palinski with his beautiful ten-fingered Bach.
Going Over captures a piece of history and presents it like a gift. A bonus is the author's source list, which contains excellent suggestions for further reading.