by Beth Kephart
I'm not sure how to explain my thoughts on this one really... It wasn't a bad book, but I didn't like it. Actually, for a while I sort of hated it.Summary: 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.
The writing was good (beautiful, really) but the book itself -- it was boring and it really dragged. It took me about two months to finish it even though it's only about 260 pages long. Given the subject matter of the book, it should've been tugging at my heartstrings, it should've made me feel something, some sort of emotional connection but all I felt was frustration and the intense desire to be done with this book.
I picked it up because I wanted to read a book, particularly a YA book, about the Berlin Wall and that turned out to be the worst part of the story.
I think part of the problem was Ada and her relationship with Stefan. The whole thing about him trying to escape so they could be together, so he could be free, that could've been so brilliant -- except instead of it being his idea, it's something Ada repeatedly pressures him into and she's so selfish and emotionally manipulative about it (even going as far as trying to make him think his grandmother doesn't love him so that he would leave her behind and letting him feel guilty for something bad that happens to her because he wasn't there to protect her from it) and I just... I could not root for them at all. If she had been supporting and agreeing with his decision, that would be fine, but she's literally demanding he risk his life for her...that's a toxic sort of relationship.
So - yeah, that ruined that part of the book for me. The fact that her character is young makes her flippant attitude towards the risks she asking him to take slightly more understandable but it still made it really difficult to like her (a character doesn't have to be likeable for a book to be good but she wasn't unlikeable in an interesting way, just annoying).
I found the stuff linked to her work at the daycare interesting, and her relationship with her best friend. Those parts were the closest it came to me liking the book...but her relationship with Stefan just ruined it for me (and the ending they got, it felt a bit abrupt).
Stefan's chapters were... Well, they were well written, but they were kind of flat. Maybe because those chapters basically revolved around Ada -- we got little snippets of his back story, but Ada was the focus, the object of obsession and since I've already established that I did not like their relationship, well...
Reading about the wall -- the true stories of it really get to me emotionally, so this book had a head start when it came to being the kind of book that gets under my skin...but it just didn't. At all.
Basically, I just didn't like this book at all, it did nothing for me. I do plan to read other books by the author though, because I did like the writing style -- it was lovely and distinctive and hopefully other books of hers will bring that same awesomeness but with characters and a story that are more my cup of tea.
I'd rate this book 1.5 stars out of 5.