Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Going Over
Author: Beth Kephart
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: 1 April 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

In the early 1980s Ada and Stefan are young, would-be lovers living on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall–Ada lives with her mother and grandmother and paints graffiti on the Wall, and Stefan lives with his grandmother in the East and dreams of escaping to the West.

REVIEW BY BETH

This novel had everything I could want from a novel, in theory. Historical fiction, especially wartime and 20th century is one of my favourite things to read and novels set in the aftermath of the Berlin Wall’s construction are not something I’ve had the chance to read often. Going Over offered this. Except it didn’t at the same time.

I have to say I was disappointed with Going Over, Ada in the West and Stefan in the East could be interesting characters but Ada’s over-zealous, unthinking attitude to the fact that Stefan can just come (despite all those who died) is almost unbelievable and the sections where Stefan is central seem very distant. Klephart uses the second person when telling Stefan’s narrative so this probably adds to the disconnection but you don’t get a sense of his character in the same way you do with Ada. Despite this making it hard to get to grip with his character it does make him all the more believable and further enhances the sense that he is disconnected from himself as well as the world in which he lives – it’s cleverer than I initially thought.

There are good things about Ada, plenty of them. She is strong-willed and dedicated and she believes in things that are true. She has a strong sense of justice but she is also extremely self-absorbed. I can’t decide whether this is just Klephart’s way of representing a girl of her age or a character trait which is part of Ada’s permanent makeup.

It’s not all negative though, I was extremely impressed with and enjoyed Klephart’s portrayal of the new German immigration problem with the Turkish community. The growing Turkish population in Berlin and Germany has created a separate society which is almost impossible to penetrate. Alongside Ada and Stefan’s story there is Savas’ story which is chilling, hard to read but ultimately all too believable. Part of me thinks I would have loved this novel if it focused on Savas’ story.

Klephart’s language is beautiful, she brings Berlin to life in a way that I can vividly remember from my visit and her younger characters, Savas and Meryem and older characters, like the grandparents on both sides of the wall, add richness to a novel which could have really impressed.

I’m sad that I simply couldn’t connect with the main character of the novel.

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BOOK THEME SONG

Please check out the original post from The Hub HERE

Taken from The Hub: In the book, Ada falls into a fevered state, and while she is ill she hears the song 99 Luftballons by a German band called Nena. The presence of this song in the story is telling. Balloons sent into the air are perceived as a military threat, resulting in a war that destroys civilization.