Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Going Over (copy)

Sixteen-year-old Ada lives with her mother, Mutti, and grandmother, Omi, on the west side of Berlin. Eighteen-year-old Stefan lives with his grandmother, Grossmutter, on the east side. Ada is allowed to visit Stefan four times a year. The visits started when she was two and by age 12 she was in love with him.
Ada’s life is free on her side of Berlin. Her family squats in some derelict apartments with shoddy heat and water, but all free. She roams the night, down different streets on a borrowed bike and no one ever questions her. Her current Cleopatra style hair is pink like Bazooka bubblegum attesting to her ability to purchase a variety of goods with money she makes at a Catholic daycare.
Stefan lives in a concrete apartment that has been assigned to his family. He is currently an apprentice at the ice factory as assigned. Although, his grades qualify him to do more exciting things such as being a cosmonaut like his late grandfather, his study of the stars is free and no curfew limits his use of the tiny balcony.
To visit Stefan, Ada must stand in line at the border marker and go through a couple of security checkpoints before passing to the other side. The body searches can be intense and she must hide contraband like maps in her shoes.
Stefan will have to make “the leap” as Ada refers to it in order to be with her. The leap includes scaling two different razor-wired fences, weaving through either the surface barriers called asparagus grass or the anti-vehicle barriers called hedgehogs, passing by 24/7 illuminated strip, crossing an access road and control strip, stepping over the anti-vehicle crash barrier and then finally climbing the wall.
All this weaving and scaling will have to be done while guards try to shoot you dead. They could be aiming at you from the watchtowers that are spaced 250 meters apart. Or they could be awaiting you on the footpaths as they patrol on an hourly schedule. Wherever they hide, they do not seem as dangerous as the beautiful Ada who tempts him.  
Set in 1983, “Going Over” by Beth Kephart is highly engaging. There is more involved than the Berlin Wall escape for young adults. Readers also meet 4-year-old Savas from one of the many Turk families brought into Germany after WWII to restart the economy. Oh, and I forgot to mention that pink-haired Ada is also a graffiti artist. 

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