Going Over

It is February 1983, and Berlin is a divided city with a miles-long barricade separating east from west. But the city isn’t the only thing that is divided. Ada lives among the rebels, punkers, and immigrants of Kreuzberg in West Berlin. Stefan lives in East Berlin, in a faceless apartment bunker of Friedrichshain. Bound by love and separated by circumstance, their only chance for a life together lies in a high-risk escape

Related: Germany, Historical Fiction, Young Adult (ages 14-18)

One thought on “Going Over

  1. Yoo Kyung Sung & Michele Ebersole says:

    Michele:
    I appreciated the author’s coverage of this topic. It was very informative to learn about how the Berlin Wall impacted the everyday people who lived and worked surrounding the wall. The author’s ability to create the historical context interwoven with facts and the fictional story made it a fascinating read. In the beginning, the story revolves around the main character, Ada who lives in the West, and her desire to be with Stefan, who is on the East side of the wall. Chapters are told from Ada’s and Stefan’s alternating perspectives and gives the reader a contrasting picture of what it might have felt like to live in such close proximity, but yet on different sides of the wall. As a reader, I found myself working to sift through the love story and build an understanding of the historical context but I can also see how love is the overwhelming and irrational force that drives youthful and colorful Ada to push a fearful Stefan to risk his life by jumping over the wall. However when Savas, the little Turkish boy that Ada becomes attached to at work, is forced to leave with his mother, Ada feels real pain and then experiences her own suffering. Her innocence is lost but her spirit is still strong. Stefan is then compelled to move beyond his fear and risks his life to be with and protect Ada. He isn’t quite convinced to do it for himself but is driven to risk for another.
    In all three books this month – Caminar, The Lightning Dreamer, and Going Over the adolescent characters must mature into adulthood quickly due to different life circumstances whether it be the immediate or long term impacts of war, but all choose to stand up and take action for self and others. This common thread between the books and the powerful stories about the human spirit make them a nice text set which can inspire readers to gain deeper understandings about life in different parts of the world during different time periods..
    Yoo Kyung:
    When I learned about this book, I was so excited to learn that Going Over is about the Berlin Wall and is set in early 1983. The political reality of countries divided by a wall in both Germany and Korea is a starkly familiar to me — two nations co-existing within one nation –West and East Germany and South Korea and North Korea. I remember how the Korean media was excitedly optimistic about the national reunification in Germany in 1990, hoping to have the same good news spread to Korea. The Berlin Wall was an unforgettable international event, dividing West and East Germany, and is not a common story for audiences in the U.S. World War II stories in the U.S. tend to focus on the European Holocaust, Japanese Interment Camps, and Pearl Harbor. Post WW II stories in Germany are not commonly told, as if the “Happily Ever After” rule was to be applied to the historical fiction of post WW II Germany. Because of that, I would say Going Over tells a significant side of the story in Germany. Our knowledge of Germany is like many different sizes of pottery shards. It takes lots of pieces put together to see the whole picture of recent German history. Going Over continues the continuity of world history that we are all too familiar with in that the war footing era of 1940’s extends through two young teenagers’ lives in 1980’s Germany. Just like the current war in Gaza, the violent tragedy between two nations has caused so much unwanted separations with a total insensitivity for human rights. In a literary déjà vu of Romeo and Juliet, Ada and Stefan struggle to maintain their romantic relationship in a politically difficult situation of borders and barriers. As Michele mentioned, Turkish people’s lives in Berlin is an additional, yet unexpectedly powerful eye-opening reading experience. That is another reason why Going Over brings an important perspective to U.S. audiences. Human rights and the history of immigrant labor are issues we hear everyday in the United States in the political disagreement over border issues and undocumented children’s arrivals from Central America. They are powerful reminders of historical and current issues affecting minority laborers in the U.S. The only critique I have of the book is the way the characters are developed, leaving me with a bit of a scattered feel. I had to reread the same pages several times to fully understand what was happening. The way other characters are addressed in the book was also confusing in the beginning. The romance aspect is distracting instead of heartbreaking. I wonder how young adult readers will respond to the two-in-one book experience—the romance across the Berlin Wall or the exhilaration of demolishing the Berlin Wall.

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