Monday, 5 January 2015

'Going Over' by Beth Kephart (****)



Happy Monday readers! I guess this week is going to go down in history as 'the week Alix did an unreasonable amount of book reviews in order to catch up with her life', and I won't argue with that. Anyway, today's book review is the incredible Beth Kephart's Going over, a story set in Berlin about love, survival and sacrifice. Going Over was sent to me by Chronicle Books in exchange for an honest review. Interested? Here is a blurb:

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, and love that will not wait.


I visited Berlin this October, and was stunned not only by the beautiful, artistic and intellectually captivating city, but the amount of oppression its people had endured throughout its history, and the stories it held of escape and survival. After having visited the Checkpoint Charlie Museum I thought I had a better understanding of what life was like for those separated by the Berlin Wall... but that was all blown to pieces when I read Beth Kephart's enticing tale, Going Over. A tale of the political oppression people suffered in early 1980's Berlin told by two teenagers gave me a whole new impression of what life was like for people in those times, and the helplessness experienced by all. Kephart's tale cleverly combines different sub-plots within one overarching story of repression, with that one small, insignificant glimmer of hope. The protagonists, Ada and Stefan, give a narrative that is tragically beautiful yet still vibrant and full of hope. The language Kephart uses conjures up the bleakly cold, beautiful city of Berlin, tainted by its history and the political oppression it embodied. 

The length of the novel is perfect in that it isn't too long for readers to get lost by the story and lose interest, yet it isn't too short that the story isn't developed enough. Kephart keeps readers captivated by bringing a political drama into the 21st century and enticing teenagers and adults alike in a story of love that is divided by fierce concrete. I could tell that the author had been inspired and transfixed by Berlin and that was apparent by the descriptions of the city, and it conjured up image after image in my head of the city as it would have been in the winter of 1983.


There will be a blog post going up soon of my time in Berlin, so please keep looking out for that :)

You can buy Going Over here: http://www.chroniclebooks.com/titles/going-over.html

Check out Beth Kephart here: http://beth-kephart.blogspot.co.uk