Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Going Over by Beth Kephart

Katie loves the poetic way that Beth Kephart writes and so, she's a little excited to tell you about the newest book from this author:

Going Over by Beth Kephart

There are good books. There are great books. There are books you love and keep next to your bed. And then there are books that feel like they were written JUST FOR YOU, which you consider keeping under your pillow while you sleep at night. Going Over by Beth Kephart is that last sort of book for me.

My love of Kephart’s work is not new. Small Damages is a stunning holiday in Seville that packs an emotional wallop all wrapped up in 300 pages. It made my “Best of” list in 2012. And Going Over has all the looks of a 2014 contender.

I should start by explaining how years ago, I daydreamed about writing a YA novel set in a divided 1980s Berlin, preferably with forbidden romance and a daring escape plan. But that sort of story requires so much research, so much heart, so much passion, I just sort of crumbled under the weight of the very idea of it. Enter this book.

Going Over is the story of Ada and Sebastian and their respective worlds on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall. Ada lives in West Germany, and while there is freedom on her side of the wall, nothing is easy. Ada lives with her mother and grandmother as squatters. She has dropped out of high school so she can work and contribute to the household. She spends her nights with her spray cans and graffing. She has been pulled into the domestic problems of one of the children she cares for. Her best friend has a huge secret. And all the while, Ada is pining for the boy she loves, the boy who lives on the other side of the wall, the boy who she only sees four times a year.

That boy is Sebastian. As an East Berliner, freedom and choice are not something he has much of, except when it comes to what he can see in his telescope. His grandfather is gone. His mother is gone. And these days all he has is his grandmother, a job at an ice factory, and the idea of Ada waiting for him. He knows that Ada won’t wait forever, but he doesn’t know how he will get over that wall. For every success story there are so many failures. And failure typically means death. What is he willing to risk for freedom and his pink-haired girl?

Discovering the answer to that question is a pleasure, though there is plenty of heartbreak along the way as life unfolds for Ada and Sebastian. There was so much fascinating history seamlessly woven into the story. And, as one expects from Beth Kephart, the language of Going Over is beautiful. There is a rhythm to the words that grows and grows on you with the turning of each page. Told in alternating voices, Ada’s first-person chapters are spunky and fearless, while Sebastian’s chapters, told in second person, reflect the inner turmoil and fear he grapples with on a daily basis, whether he’s remembering the past or trying to imagine a future other than the one East Berlin has chosen for him. I can’t recommend this gorgeous, inspiring read enough. You may find yourself wanting to keep Ada and Sebastian safe under your pillow, too.

Read More:
Small Damages by Beth Kephart

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