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Monday, May 16, 2011

How Huge the Night...Review

About the book:
Fifteen-year-old Julien Losier just wants to fit in. But after his family moves to a small village in central France in hopes of outrunning the Nazis, he is suddenly faced with bigger challenges than the taunting of local teens.

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.

A coming-of-age story set during the drama of France in World War 2.  Upon relocating from Paris to his father's childhood home in rural France from Paris, Julien finds himself on the outside of the other boys his age.  When, Benjamin, a Jewish refugee comes to live with him, the ostracism is worse.  As the war breaks out, there is uncertainty and distrust, especially after Germany invades France.

Nina and her brother Gustav escape Austria and, after harrowing, near-death experiences, finally make their way to rural France. 

As the novel progresses, however, these young people learn about life, friendship, politics and loyalty.  We learn about the scars that were left from World War 1 and how that affected the parents who lived through it as they try and help their children adjust to the new war and all it brings.  The story is slow-paced, yet thoughtful and compelling.  Julien's and Nina's stories finally cross, but there is no real personal interaction between the two of them which was disappointing given that the teaser indicates differently. 

This is a slower-paced, thought-provoking story with elements based on factual events and one that might appeal to young people, especially those who like historical novels or stories about this time period. I think it would be a terrific book for discussion, either in a youth book group or a classroom setting.  The Christian elements are strong, as is the importance of belief in and reliance on God, regardless of ones faith.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Kregel for the opportunity to review this book.  You can read the first chapter here.  You can learn more about Heather and Lydia Munn here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 5/11

* * *
3/5 Stars

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the good review. If you or others are interested in How Huge the Night as a basis for discussion, Heather has put together some questions. They can be found on our website, along with more background information. One warning, though. For anyone who hasn't read the book, there are spoilers on the website. It's a good idea to read the book first!