Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How Huge the Night

How Huge the Night: A NovelAuthors: Heather Munn & Lydia Munn
ISBN: 978-0-8254-3310-8
Publisher: Kregal Publications
Purchase link: How Huge the Night: A Novel
Source: Litfuse Blog Tour

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.


How huge the night was a wonderful, young adult, historical fiction novel. I was impressed with how well written the novel is for having two authors, since collaborating as an author can be difficult. The story is not a light read. It chronicles the coming-of-age period in Julien’s life while also telling the story of Nina and her little brother Gustav who are on the run from the Nazis because they are Jews. The stories are told side by side, flipping back and forth between the two, until they meet and merge. From the synopsis on the copy I was provided with for this tour, which is not the same as the synopsis above, I expected that Nina and Julie would meet much earlier in the novel than they did. I also expected their stories to be more of one story than two. This was not the case for a majority of the novel. The stories are very separate for the most part.

Though the story has a slow and thoughtful pace to it, I still enjoyed it. I loved the point of view in this story. Not many historical are written about the children affected by war, though those who survived have grown up with plenty of stories to pass on, fears to overcome and memories of life lessons learned at far too innocent an age. I was also drawn to the setting of this novel. When I think of WWII I don’t immediately thing of Southern France, thought the war did have its place in France. I enjoyed reading a WWII novel that stepped outside the boundaries of Germany. I also enjoyed learning a few new things from the historical facts in this book.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel despite its slow start. The story compels you to keep reading to find out what happens next with the characters. I found the events and circumstances that lead to the choices and actions made by Nina and Julien to be interesting and well written. The story of their lives and how they intertwine amidst a harsh environment and unfortunate reality was eye opening to read. I think the authors did a good job working together and telling this story, which is based on actual events though it is fiction. While it is not your beach read for this summer, it is a thoughtful and compelling story of faith that is tested and tried, friendship, family, loss and turmoil in the midst of war. This story leaves you with plenty to think about and be thankful for.

About the Munn's:
Heather Munn was born in Northern Ireland and grew up in southern France where her parents were missionaries like their parents before them. She has a BA in literature from Wheaton College and now lives in a Christian intentional community in rural Illinois, where she and her husband, Paul, host free spiritual retreats for the poor, especially those transitioning out of homelessness or addiction. When not writing or hosting, she works on the communal farm.

Lydia Munn, daughter of missionary parents, grew up in Brazil. She received a BA in literature from Wheaton College, and an MA in Bible from Columbia Graduate School of Bible and Missions. With her husband, Jim, she has worked in church planting and Bible teaching since 1983, notably in St. Etienne, near the small town in the central mountains of France which forms the background of How Huge the Night. The Munns now live in Grenoble, France.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and review How Huge the Night! I'm very glad you liked it. Sorry for the slight misleadingness of the back cover summary... several people have commented on that and I am now wishing I had asked the publisher to change the phrasing that makes it sound like Julien and Nina meet much sooner than they do.... it's totally my fault, they asked me if I wanted them to change anything and I guess I didn't take enough time to think about it.


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