Clockstein Lockstein's Reviews > How Huge the Night

How Huge the Night by Heather Munn
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May 16, 11


How Huge the Night by Heather & Lydia Munn is a compelling story of the German occupation of France during World War II through the eyes of two teenagers. Julien is angry when his family moves from Paris into the countryside of Tanieux to escape from Hitler's growing power. He resents the loss of his friends and what is familiar for hard farm work and a new school where the boys are led by arrogant Henri. He is even more upset when his parents take in a Jewish boy named Benjamin who will also attend the school and never seems to look up from his books, except to insult Julien or give an answer in class to show up the rest of the boys. Meanwhile in Austria, Nina's father's dying wish is for her to take her younger brother Gustav, pretend to be a boy, and get out of the country before they are captured and sent to a camp for being Jewish. The plan seems doomed from the start when the rabbi who was to help the siblings to safety has been arrested, and the man they turn to for aid instead attempts to rape Nina, sending them on a wild race for their lives into the night. The story alternates between Julien's growing maturity as he struggles to understand how to fight someone with weapons of love as his pastor suggests and Nina's battle to keep her brother alive that soon becomes a giving up on life for herself. The stories come together when the siblings arrive in Tanieux and Julien helps them find safe refuge but even that is questioned when Henri threatens to turn them over to his father who will send them to a refugee camp, where Nina will most certainly die. The daughter/mother author team, Heather and Lydia Munn have really brought these based on real events to life, by sharing them through the eyes of Julien and Nina. Julien seems like a very average teenage boy, obsessed with soccer and fitting in with the other boys, angry at his parents uprooting him from all he knows, torn at his grandfather's stories of their Huguenot heritage. He matures as the story unfolds, learning to think about someone other than himself, deeply regretting words spoken in the heat of the moment, and finally coming to understand that you can't win someone's heart by fighting them. Nina's story is haunting and chilling as she experiences so much evil, more than any young girl should see, so much that she decides to give up on life. This is a quiet, yet powerful story of personal strength, faith, and sacrifice.
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