1. Great plot. This is my first book about what it was like to be behind the iron curtain.
2. Diverse characters. I mean this in a personality-way. Nielsen does a great job presenting diverse viewpoints and reactions to Russian-occupied East Berlin during the 1960’s.
3. Likeable characters. Gerta and her brother Fritz are idealistic, frustrated, and loyal to each other and their ideals. Their mother is also well-thought-out, though you have to look deeper to see it because this story is told from Gerta’s POV, and she’s a little immature to realize exactly what her mother is enduring. Young readers will most likely also be oblivious to it, but it’s there.
Where it fell short of 5 stars:
1. Slow start. I put this down for about a week and didn’t miss it. I picked it back up because my daughter assured me it was a good story. She was right.
2. Too-perfect ending. It truly has a storybook ending. Even the tragic elements are glossed-over.
3. Pacing. Not only did it have a slow start, I didn’t understand why the ending was drawn out for so long. I would have liked to see more interaction with the dad/brother and less time spent tunneling.
Overall, I liked this book and I would recommend it to others who like historical fiction.