In her searing new novel, National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart paints a vivid picture of a divided Berlin and the wall that separates friends, lovers and families.

It’s 1983, and Ada scrapes out an existence in West Berlin. Her world is full of secrets: A childcare worker by day, she spends her nights roaming the city armed with a can of spray paint. Her best friend is hiding a pregnancy, and a little boy in her care is also harboring a secret, a dangerous and terrible one. But perhaps Ada’s greatest secret is Stefan, the boy on the other side of the Berlin Wall whom she loves and begs to cross over, and to do it now.

For his part, Stefan must balance his desire for freedom and to be with Ada with his responsibilities to his grandmother. He knows full well the consequences of a failed escape attempt, and so he makes lists of all the tiny things that could go wrong. Then he meets Lucas, and his plans start to become reality.

Inspired by a trip the author took to Berlin in 2011, Going Over is told in alternating chapters by Ada and Stefan, giving us a glimpse of life on both sides of the Wall. Kephart gets under the reader’s skin, raising questions and leaving us unsettled, unsure. And that, in the end, is just what graffiti artists are after.

 

Deborah Hopkinson lives near Portland, Oregon. Her most recent book for young readers is The Great Trouble.

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