Monday, April 28, 2014

Defy the Night by Heather Munn and Lydia Munn

About the book: In the midst of war, one teenager is determined to make a difference.

If no one will do anything, she'll have to do it herself.

In 1941 France is still "free." But fifteen-year-old Magali is frustrated by the cruel irony of pretending life is normal when food is rationed, new clothes are a rarity, and most of her friends are refugees. And now the government is actually helping the Nazis. Someone has got to do something, but it seems like no one has the guts--until Paquerette arrives.

Smuggling refugee children is Paquerette's job. And she asks Magali to help.

Working with Paquerette is scary and exhausting, but Magali never doubts that it is the right thing to do. Until her brash actions put those she loves in danger.

My thoughts: In Defy the Night the reader experiences World War II though the lens of a 15-year-old girl living in France. It is 1941 and Germany is pursuing its goal of becoming the master conquerer.  Magali is a young 15 year old that experiences inner anger, turmoil, rebellion, and down-right contrariness. Most of these feelings she manages to keep inside herself, but it is known by all the adults around her that Magali needs to grow up or mature.

There is a movement afoot where an organization is managing to enter the internment camps in which the Germans have placed “refugees” (gypsies, Jews, etc.) to remove the “orphans.” This is very dangerous work, but for some reason it is being allowed by the Germans. Magali wants to be part of this heroic effort and thinks she is mature enough to do so. She gets her opportunity.

She enters the camp unprepared for the stark reality of fences, barbed wire, mean looking guards with guns, animalistic behavior of children over scraps of food, sick and destitute people, dirt, stink and more horror that she ever imagined. Then to travel with a group of near death babies and young children nearly broke her spirit.

The darkness of the night that World War II brought to Europe is raw, hard to bear, unbelievably stark. But the efforts of the heroes that saved the children from this darkness is brilliant defiance that truly defied the night. It brought light to those in darkness. It brought escape. It brought hope.

This is a coming of age novel and it is not an easy read. The reader will be transported mentally to the character’s despair and courage. To their hope and hopelessness. To the joy of seeing deathly ill babies experience life renewal.

The story is fiction but is based on records and true accounts from agencies from France, Switzerland, and the United States that were involved in the rescue of children during this time of night and evil. The true nature of the Holocaust was not yet fully recognized at this point in history. It was yet to come. But conditions were still atrocious and inhumane.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Defy the Night from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I received no compensation for this review.

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