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Going Over

Going Over

by Beth Kephart

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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


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. But will Stefan find the courage to leap? Or will forces beyond his control stand in his way? National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart presents a story of daring and sacrifice in this three-starred reviewed Junior Library Guild Selection and Booklist Top 10 Historical Fiction for Youth.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kephart (Small Damages) crafts an absorbing story of young love and conflicting ideologies set in 1983 Berlin. Ada, 15, lives an impoverished life in West Berlin with her mother and grandmother, while 18-year-old Stefan—who Ada has loved for years—lives with his grandmother in dull Friedrichshain on the other side of the wall. The plot shifts between Ada's life, which includes "graffing" scenes of heroic escapes on the Wall itself and visiting Stefan when she can, and Stefan's dissatisfied days spent working as a plumber's apprentice while developing tentative plans to attempt to overcome the wall, despite the potentially fatal consequences. Kephart alternates between the two teenagers' voices, with Stefan's voice written in second-person; deeply held desires for freedom and escape, both physical and artistic, radiate from each narrative. A subplot involving a Turkish boy in need of help gives the novel additional depth, and the sharpness of the lovers' separation is as deeply felt as the worry that they will never reunite. Ages 14–up. Agent: Amy Rennert, the Amy Rennert Agency. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"An unforgettable portrayal of life and love divided. Kephart captures the beauty and desperation of 1980's Berlin with prose both gripping and graceful."—Ruta Sepetys, New York Times bestselling author of Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy

A Junior Library Guild Selection"

Readers will finish the book and continue to think about how effective one wall can be in separating a country and in fashioning attitudes toward life."—Reading Today"

Paints a vivid picture of a divided Berlin and the wall that separates friends, lovers and families."—BookPage"

Going Over carefully balances love and heartbreak, propelling readers through the story."—Shelf Awareness"

Beth Kephart has done it again. She's spun gold out of the language of longing and has shown us how to make room for miracles. Going Over—about a boy and girl separated by the cruelest of fates—will inspire any reader to make the leap for love."—Patricia McCormick, author of National Book Award Finalists Sold and Never Fall Down"

At once compelling and challenging... this gripping effort captures the full flavor of a trying time in an onerous place."—Kirkus Reviews"

A keenly intimate story of human love made epic by circumstances."— Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books"

An intense, absorbing read that shows how the personal and political can be fused together, and how small, personal acts can have life-changing implications for many people.... a unique, passionate story illuminating a fascinating time and place."—Common Sense Media"

An excellent example of historical fiction focusing on an unusual time period."-School Library Journal, starred review"

An absorbing story of young love and conflicting ideologies."—Publishers Weekly"

A stark reminder of the power of hope, courage, and love."-Booklist, starred review"

A profound read meant for discussion."-VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates

Children's Literature - Judy DaPolito
Ada Piekarz, almost sixteen, lives with her mother and grandmother in a run-down building in SO36 on the west side of Berlin. She dyes her hair fluorescent pink and works at a daycare center to provide food for her family. At night, she sneaks out to spray paint colorful graffiti of successful escapes. Stefan is eighteen. He lives with his grandmother in Friedrichshain on the east side. He used to be a champion swimmer and spends his spare time learning the skies with his late grandfather’s telescope, but the authorities have decided he’ll work as an apprentice in the boiler house at the Eisfabrick and become a plumber. Ada and Stefan are in love, but they can see each other only four times a year because it is the 1980s and the Berlin Wall stands between them. Ada and her grandmother can cross the wall only four times a year to visit. Stefan and his grandmother can never cross it, but Ada brings Stefan stories of those who have made their way over it and tells him she will wait, but not forever. Stefan wants to try, but he lives with the stories of those who were killed in the attempt, including his own grandfather. The story is strong, beautifully written, and true to its historical setting. A subplot about a child from the Turkish immigrant community on the west side enhances the plot and demonstrates Ada’s compassion. An author’s note and source lists give additional information about the time and place. Reviewer: Judy DaPolito; Ages 14 up.
Voya Reviews, April 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 1) - Kristi Sadowski
Ada is squatting in an apartment with her mother and grandmother on the west side of the Berlin Wall. Like so many in those days, her family has friends on the East Side—friends they can only see every six months or so, when they are permitted to cross the wall. This includes Ada’s boyfriend, Stephan. By day, she works in a daycare caring for the children of Turkish immigrants. She spends her nights graffing miraculous escape attempts from East to West. On each of her visits across the wall to Stephan, she brings him stories of escape attempts and tells him while she will wait, she will not wait forever. Stephan listens to Ada’s stories and wants to be with her—wants to be free—but is scared to attempt escape: his grandfather died during his attempt. Set in the 1980s, this novel is about freedom and perception of freedom. The overlying story is that of Ada and Stephan—West and East, but deeper than that, Kephart shows how those in the West were still restricted. Overtly, this is shown through the disappearance of Savas, a boy from the daycare where Ada works, but it is shown in other ways as well. Other messages, such as love, overcoming fear, and perseverance, are explored. This book will probably resonate most with older readers who will understand the nuanced themes, but it is certainly accessible to a wider range. Going Over is a profound read meant for discussion. Reviewer: Kristi Sadowski; Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
★ 03/01/2014
Gr 8 Up—Stefan and Ada love each other, but they can only see each other four times a year. That is how often Ada and her grandmother can cross the border into East Berlin to visit the matriarch's best friend, Stefan's grandmother. As time passes, Ada obsesses about people who have escaped to freedom, but Stefan worries about those who tried and failed. He spends his days looking through his grandfather's telescope at the world around him, while Ada spends her nights creating graffiti artwork on her side of the Berlin Wall. While much of this story is focused on the teens and whether they can be together, other characters on both sides of the wall also get their own moments to shine. One of Kephart's strengths is her ability to immerse readers in 1980s Berlin, a time period that does not receive a lot of attention in most history textbooks. One subplot involves the plight of Turkish immigrants in West Berlin, and Ada becomes involved with trying to save a preschooler in her care from an abusive home. Kephart also uses plenty of sensual language to help readers feel the characters' aches and pains and to smell the smoke, dill, baked wool, and leather. This is an excellent example of historical fiction focusing on an unusual time period, and the author's note and selected sources list will be useful for readers who want to learn more about what it was like to live on either side of the Berlin Wall.—Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Life in the grim shadow of the Berlin Wall is vividly reflected in Kephart's moving exploration in two voices. Ada, a nearly 16-year-old graffiti artist, lives in poverty in West Berlin, but Stefan, the 18-year-old boy she loves, lives on the other side of the wall in even more difficult conditions. Their only hope for a future together is if he finds a way to escape, but his grandfather perished in an attempt. Meanwhile, at night, he trains his telescope on the West while she ventures out to paint scenes of great escapes on the wall. A secondary plot arises from Ada's work at a day care center; little Savas, from an underclass of Turkish immigrants, has disappeared after his mother was abused. Related in a swirling, second-person stream of consciousness that mimics the free-flowing colors of her nighttime art, Ada's and Stefan's alternating present-tense narratives offer a point/counterpoint on the need for escape but its daunting peril. Their story is at once compelling and challenging, perhaps limiting this book to an audience of sophisticated readers. The plight of young Savas adds depth, but its tragic outcome is muted by the building suspense of Stefan's evolving plan. While this gripping effort captures the full flavor of a trying time in an onerous place, many readers will find it hard going. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
HL790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Beth Kephart is the award-winning author of books for both adults and young readers, including You Are My Only, Small Damages, Handling the Truth, and One Thing Stolen. She lives in Devon, Pennsylvania.

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