This completely frank, thought-provoking, and often wryly humorous account of life in Berlin before the fall of the Wall will go straight to your heart with its fascinating stories and tales from both sides of the Divided City. With poignancy and warmth, the author creates believable characters who adhere to their own truths, not necessarily the expectations of the reader.
The personable, unnamed speaker in this first person narrative is a writer trying to create the story of a man "caught in a back-and-forth motion over the Wall, like a soccer goalie in an instant replay, always taking the same dive to miss the same ball." Virtually all the Berliners we meet here--from both East and West--are in the same situation as the unfortunate goalie, as they, too, go back and forth, repeatedly mistaking the moves of people from the other "side," misinterpreting signals, and often, in their ignorance, failing to "get it."
The author provides an amazingly complete, though somewhat sanitized, picture of the Wall-jumpers--not those poor souls who were brutally machine-gunned by Wall guards, but people like the speaker who come and go across the Wall with relative impunity because they do not call attention to themselves. And Schneider is quick to point out that most of the East Berliners are fairly satisfied with their lives, which are depicted with much warmth, as families and friends spend a great deal of time with each other, undistracted by the responsibilities of "freedom."
The fascinating philosophical discussions and personal revelations that occur among friends from both sides may sweep away your preconceptions about life in Berlin, as they did mine, and you may find yourself reevaluating your thinking about society and politics in general, and about Germany, in particular. Mary Whipple