One sentence review: This book means something.
Defy the Night is a heart-rending story. It's terrible and wonderful and the characters become strong presences in your mind as you read.
Historical fiction can often seem fluffy, with modern people and poor plots forced back into a different era.
Not so Defy The Night.
This book is written in a serious, steady way, with a tone that captures the tedium and the danger and intensity of life in 1941 Tanieux France.
Magali is a fifteen year old girl living in a country where the government capitulates with the Nazi's and her neighbors have largely ceased to resist. It all spells "weakness" to her, and she loathes it.
Magali wants to be strong. She has courage, but it's raw and untested. It's courage without wisdom and prudence.
Paquerette can teach Magali how to be brave and smart, and she can give Magali a reason to live.
Paquerette is young in years and old in spirit, with eyes like firelight on steel.
Standing tall and straight, Paquerette walks into the lion's den week after week and steals away his prey.
The lions are the internment camps, the prey is the sick and dying children who manage to get medical releases. Paquerette is their escort to safety, their lifeline. She becomes Magali's Joan of Arc.
This story is excellent historical fiction, and a great choice for a teenage girl who wants her life to make the world better, who wants to break out of the narrow box that every woman she knows seems to live in.
If someone asked me what stood out to me most about this novel, I'd say it is a story about a girl who finds out what strength really is, and learn what it means to be strong.
Paquerette who poured out all her reserves, to the last drop, to save lives.
Magali, who desperately wanted her life to matter in the fight against evil.
Magali's mother, who wanted to shelter her girl and needed to let her go.
Rosa, the refugee girl who never stood out yet had abilities that Paquerette needed in her work.
Nina, the girl who had experiences behind her eyes that she never could explain, who was grateful for every drop of kindness, and whose brokenness became proven strength.
Tank you Kregel for my review copy! I'll certainly be looking for How Huge The Night.
This is an interview with the authors, about How Huge the Night, book one in the series:
Heather and Lydia Author Interview!
Girls in Rivesaltes...
The ruins of Rivesaltes today...
The town of Le Chambon...