Going Over – Beth Kephart

“We live with ghosts. We live with thugs, dodgers, punkers, needle ladies, pork knuckle. We live where there’s no place else to go. We live with birds – a pair of magpies in the old hospital turrets, a fat yellow-beaked grebe in the thick sticks of the plant trees. A man named Sebastien has moved into the Kiez from France. My mother’s got an eye on him.”

Ada is almost 16, a day care worker by day and a graffiti artist by night she specialises in telling stories. The stories she shares with the children are about not being afraid and being the person you want to be. The strories she tells through her art are about people she knows – on both sides of the wall. Ada lives her life on the West of the Berlin wall with her mother and her Omi. Stefan lives on the East of the wall, with his grandmother, who is best friends with Ada’s Omi. He is mad that his life has been dictated for him and constantly has his grandfathers telescope pointed at freedom. The two of them are in love but with a barricade full of danger separating them the only chance of being together is a daring escape. Can Stefan find the courage to make his escape? And can Ada keep waiting for the boy she believes she loves, who she has only seen four times a year for as long as she can remember?

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A love story separated by one of the most powerful regimes of the past 50 years. The story within the pages of Going Over was incredible and is, in my eyes, a must read.

I found this book captivating and I honestly couldn’t put it down. I got so sucked in on my train that I didn’t realise where I was when I looked up and saw the train pulling into my stop in Manchester. I fully expected to look up and bear witness to the comings and goings around the squat that Ada and her family lived in or the Stasi listening in on the conversations around me. The affect that this book had on me was incredible and it helped me learn a fair bit about a period of history that I honestly don’t know a lot about at all.

The writing is what captivated me and I loved the interchanging chapters, flitting between Ada and Stefan in a seemingly random but in my mind perfect pattern. I loved that we got to have some insight from Stefan and that it wasn’t all about Ada because his life was changing so drastically because of Ada that I wanted to know more about how he felt about that. I loved the switch in pronoun use that Kephart did when switching between the two characters too with Ada always talking about herself as “I” and Stefan talking about himself as “You”.

The only think I honestly wasn’t impressed with with regards to Going Over was how ridiculously short it was. At only 200 pages I thought there was a lot squeezed into one short book and I think there could have been even more if it was given the space it needed. I think most of all though I just wanted more, more of Ada, of Stefan and more of the world they lived in. It was a horrible world but it intrigued me and I love getting history lessons from books so I really, really loved this one!

This is the second Beth Kephart book I have read and honestly I can’t get over what an incredibly awesome author she is. I really do recommend her especially if you like gritty, truthful stories that will pull at your emotions without getting stupidly soppy.

Going Over was published on April 1st by Chronicle Books. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
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