Tuesday, May 17, 2011
How Huge the Night by Heather and Lydia Munn
Nina Krenkel left her country to obey her father's dying command: Take your brother and leave Austria. Burn your papers. Tell no one you are Jews. Alone and on the run, she arrives in Tanieux, France, dangerously ill and in despair.
Thrown together by the chaos of war, Julien begins to feel the terrible weight of the looming conflict and Nina fights to survive. As France falls to the Nazis, Julien struggles with doing what is right, even if it is not enough-and wonders whether or not he really can save Nina from almost certain death.
Based on the true story of the town of Le Chambon-the only French town honored by Israel for rescuing Jews from the Holocaust-How Huge the Night is a compelling, coming-of-age drama that will keep teens turning the pages as it teaches them about a fascinating period of history and inspires them to think more deeply about their everyday choices.
My take: My favorite WWII books are those that infuse me with hope. The stories where people do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Julien is one of those individuals who struggles with acceptance yet when faced with whether or not he will be a hero in the eyes of himself and his family or a hero in the eyes of Henri, the town bully, he makes the choice to do the right thing.
Nina and Gustav leave everything behind them, including the body of their father, and move over country borders to find safety. They experience horrendous hardship and Nina loses her health and eventually sinks into a psychotic state. They find themselves in the Julien's village and are at the mercy of a few of the citizens.
The reader is privy to Julien's developing maturity and friendships he develops. When the conflict really begins, Julien's experiences have shaped him enough that he steps up to the task.
This is not a fast paced novel but it is based on true events from the French village. I enjoyed it but it is not my favorite WWII book. I still recommend it, though.