Book Review | How Huge The Night
Title: How Huge the Night: A Novel
Author: Heather Munn, Lydia Munn
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.
How Huge The Night is a compelling read that captured my heart. It’s a book that had me hooked from the beginning. It’s set during the tumultuous time of WWII. This is a period that I have a little bit of knowledge just from what I’ve learned from books and movies. I thoroughly enjoyed the history and I was both entertained and educated at the same time
The book’s main character is Julien, a 15 year boy Parisian boy who was relocated because of the war to his family hometown of Tanieux, France. He’s a gentle character with a love of soccer, family and God and very likable. I felt for him when he struggled to fit in amongst his classmates at school. He was a caring boy as he looked after and protected his family’s ward, Benjamin, a German Jew. Benjamin was staying with the family because it’s “not safe to be Jew in Germany right now”. That sentence sent chills down my spine because I know of the unspeakable horror that went on at the hands of the Nazis at that time.
The other characters were Nina (aka Niko) and her brother, Gustav. We watched them flee their home in Austria and head towards France. What they went through to get there amazed me. These two teens are so strong. I felt great respect for them. It was shocking some of the perilous situations they found themselves in and I was literally breathless on the edge of my seat.
This is an emotional story for me to read and it made me realize just how lucky I am. These people lived in fear for their lives and their families lives. Their decisions were life or death in some situations. I think my favourite part of the book was when Julien went to the woods and got stuck in a snowstorm and almost died. It was amazing to read his story of survival. I don’t want to give too much more away so you can read it for yourself and see what I mean.
How Huge The Night is a powerful, moving book that’s based on a true story. I’m going to be getting Olivia, my 13 year old daughter to read it and learn some of our world history.
About the Authors:
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.
*I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel.*