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Tear Down This Wall

Beth Kephart’s Going Over examines what life was like in 1980s Berlin and the lengths to which people will go for love.

Tear Down This Wall

BOOK REPORT for Going Over by Beth Kephart

Cover Story: Banksy-esque
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: She Said, He/You Said
Bonus Factor: Street Art
Relationship Status: Captivated

Cover Story: Banksy-esque

I love me some street art (see below) and this cover looks a little like something you’d see on the walls of a secluded underpass. My only issue is that the shadow at the bottom doesn’t look as spray-painted as the girl’s head at the top.

The Deal:

Ada lives in West Berlin, in a squatter’s co-op. By day, she works at a daycare, watching and educating the children of her fellow squatters and Turkish immigrants. By night, she tells stories through graffiti on her side of the Berlin Wall.

Stefan lives in East Berlin, with his Grossmutter. By day, he works as an apprentice in an ice processing factory. By night, he looks at the stars through a telescope left to him by his grandfather, who disappeared in a failed attempt to cross the wall.

Ada and Stefan have known each other since they were little. Ada and Stefan only see each other a few times a year. Ada and Stefan are in love, and they won’t let a silly thing like the 87 mile-long giant wall (and the insane security surrounding it) change their hearts.

BFF Charm: Yay x2

Ada and Stefan are both strong, sympathetic characters. Ada is loyal and dedicated to her family, even though they’re a bit broken. She loves Stefan with all her heart, but she’s not afraid to admit that she feels like they might not work out, what with having to live on separate sides of the Wall. She’s a definite realist. She’s also really good at graffiti, and I’d love to get lessons from her.

Stefan wants nothing more than to be with Ada (and to be free), but he’s wary of leaving his grandmother by herself. But he’s willing to risk nearly everything for love, which is a quality I truly admire. He also doesn’t let fear stop him from taking chances and making the changes he knows are necessary for his best possible future.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

You’d think a book featuring main characters who are apart for the majority of the story might have a lack of swoon, but you’d be surprised. The swoon in Going Over isn’t of the warm tingly variety, but the love Ada and Stefan share is the kind of love people write epic poetry about. It’s genuine and enduring and totally “awwww-worthy.”

Talky Talk: She Said, He/You Said

The chapters of Going Over switch between Ada’s perspective and Stefan’s perspectives, in an unusual way: Ada’s POV is in first person and Stefan’s is in second. I have little experience reading books in second person (other than Choose Your Own Adventure books), but surprisingly, it wasn’t as jarring to switch between the two as I would have thought. The second person narrative actually made me feel more connected to both characters.

Beth Kephart also has an awesome way with details; I feel like I learned a lot about life in Berlin in the ‘80s and the art of graffiti, but it never felt like I was reading something straight out of a history book. Even though I’m an American who was only 5 when the Wall fell, I could understand and sympathize with Ada and Stefan’s plight.

Bonus Factor: Street Art

I think street art and graffiti can be one of the most beautiful genres of art, if done right. (Banksy is one of my favorite artists of all time.) I love to come across cheeky or poignant art as I’m driving or in unexpected places. Ada uses her graffiti to tell stories of people she sees as heroes. And even though I couldn’t literally see the art, Kephart’s details helped me imagine it in full color in my head.

Casting Call:

Juno Temple as Ada

Kellan Lutz as Stefan

Relationship Status: Captivated

I’m a little surprised that we hit it off as well as we did, Book. Your story resonated, and even though I couldn’t fully understand what your characters were going through, the general themes of life and love they dealt with are timeless and universal. I thank you for sharing with me the story of Ada and Stefan, and I wish them the happily ever after they very much deserve.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Chronicle Books. I received neither a private dance performance from Tom Hiddleston nor money for this review. Going Over is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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