Friday, April 11, 2014

ARC Review: Going Over - Beth Kephart

Going Over by Beth Kephart
Genre: YA, historical fiction, romance
Published on April 1, 2014
Published by Chronicles Books
Pages: 264
Read From: 3.30.14 - 4.3.14

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.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? The cover art doesn’t really catch my interest. I wouldn’t have paid any attention to this book at all if it hadn’t been an ARC for an upcoming teen novel.

Characters: It didn’t take me long to decide that Ada was a brat and a little bit of a jerk. Her constant pressuring Stefan to try and escape East Berlin and not listening when he told her about the danger she was putting both of them in by talking about it so openly drove me up a wall. Yes, Ada; Stefan does need to find the courage to try, but find a supportive way of encouraging him. Don’t keep ignoring how unsafe it is in East Berlin, and stop telling him that if he doesn’t try, you won’t wait forever for him. That’s just downright manipulative! “If you don’t risk your neck in trying to escape and put your whole family in danger, our romantic relationship is over.” I don’t care of Ada was caring about the kids in her daycare. When it came to how she treated Stefan, I couldn’t like her. Meanwhile, due to the narration style (which I will talk about further on), I felt like I never got to really know Stefan at all. All the other characters blurred into the background.

The Romance: I got so sick of Stefan talking about Ada’s neon hair, the mole right above her lip, her two front teeth (one bigger than the other), and her “juicy lips.” The juicy lips and the mole really got me. And this is what the romance totally consisted of, so it’s little surprise that it grossed me out. Does it take up much of the story? Well, sadly, yes.

Plot: Ada and her family – which consists of her mother and grandmother – live right next to the Berlin Wall, on the West side. And unluckily, Ada has fallen in love with a boy, Stefan, on the East Side. When Ada isn’t working at a daycare that educates local emigrant Turkish kids, she’s trying to find a way for Stefan to escape. And at night, she spray paints murals on the wall. I did want to like this book, even though I went into it suspecting that it wouldn’t go anywhere. A book set in East Berlin should not be as boring as Going Over was. But the Author focused so much on the adolescent romance that I didn’t give a fig about and hardly any time on Stefan’s escape plan – or past escapes from East Berlin. I didn’t care about Ada’s personal problems or the problems of the Turkish emigrants. I might have, because that’s an interesting bit of German history I don’t know much about, but I was so bored that I just didn’t care about anything or anyone.

Believability: No complaints.

Writing Style: Each chapter is told from Ada’s or Stefan’s point of view. Ada’s narration is in first person, present tense. I still don’t like present tense, but I’m getting used to it, and the present tense would have been fine, except I didn’t care about Ada’s narration. However, Stefan’s narration is what killed me – and probably what made this book so abhorrent to me. Stefan narrated in second person, present tense. Second person is “you.” Stefan never says “I” or even “he.” It’s always “you.” And I cannot even begin to describe how much this distances the Reader from the character. Not only was the narration tense so horribly annoying, but the Author used some really horrid analogies. This one took the cake: “Her lips were puffy with all the kissing, like gum before the pop.” (pg. 104) I’ll leave you with that imagery.

Content: 5 g—damns, 4 s-words.

Conclusion: I love escape stories – I really do. This is the kid who watched The Great Escape practically every day, who wanted to visit the ruins of famous POW camps, and who actively looked for an excuse to be sent to my room so I could practice covert ways of escape. Escape stories have always been one of my favorite genres. Too bad Going Over rushes through the escape part and just kind of . . . ends. Maybe some people won’t mind the second person, present tense. And maybe some people will find the pros beautiful and evocative. But I didn’t.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, eighteen-and-up. This is a YA book that will more than likely appeal to adults versus actual teens because of the style and the “thoughtful” moments of the book.


  1. Ew, this sounds horrible. That analogy is just nasty. I don't even want to think about the mole and "juicy lips". Call me crazy, but those don't sound like pros :P

    1. The writing style is really almost 95% of what made this book so unbearable. I'm not sure I can chew gum for a while. ;)

  2. Sorry to hear that you didn't like this one.

    1. Yeah . . . . I'm sure it will appeal to other Readers, though. Not every book is for every person. :)


Thank you for visiting The Reading Hedgehog! The hedgie and I love hearing from our readers, so please feel free to leave a comment or question! I always try to reply within a day or two. Please keep all comments civil and clean.