Thursday, August 04, 2011
Munn and Munn's How Huge the Night ~ Reviewed
How Huge the Night: A Novel [Paperback]
Heather Munn (Author), Lydia Munn (Author)
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (March 9, 2011)
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.
“We have to be really, really careful. We have to stay off the road and cross at night.”
There are some things that cannot be hidden by the night. Your nationality, your religion, your ethnic background, even your social status are clear to all have eyes to see. When Julien’s family moves from Paris to the small town of Tanieux it is evident to everyone that they are not local and only displaced by the war brewing along the Maginoux line. Family friends of German decent and Jewish background leave their son Benjamin with Julien’s family, and that only makes his differences all the more evident. Living in war time is troublesome enough, but for a teenage boy trying to fit into a strange school in a strange town…well, there are smaller, daily wars that rage in Julien’s world, and every one of them is significant and emotionally turbulent.
How Huge the Night captures the nuances and dangers of life in France during WWII. The setting of the small, rural village of Tanieux is an effective background for the emotional and sometimes physical turbulence brought to bear in a young boy’s life as the adults struggle with the economic and political stresses brought to bear by the war that rages with Germany. Like any young boy of the era, Juliene initially longs to fight and protect his family. However, his is soon consumed with just trying to manage the every day struggles that come as he tries to fit in among his peers.
Another plot line is woven amid the story about two young Austrian children who find themselves adrift amid strangers with they are abruptly orphaned. Trying to follow their father’s instructions becomes nearly impossible when they find themselves homeless and penniless on the streets of France. Will the people of Tanieux reach out to these young orphans or will they let the fears warring in their hearts keep them from showing basic human kindness as war rages around them?
This is a premier of the mother-daughter writing duo Heather and Lydia Munn. I eagerly await more stories from their pen! This is an excellent story and one readers will long remember!
Reviewed by: Kim Ford