May 28, 2011

How Huge the Night by Heather Munn

When was the last time you had to make a decision that was really the difference between life and death? How about the choice between being popular and standing up for what's right? Did you make the right choice?

In Heather Munn's new novel How Huge the Night, the teen protagonist Julian faces both of those decisions, big decisions for a 15-year old who really just wants to play soccer. The novel is really broken up into two stories - the story of Julian as he learns the difference between right and wrong with his family and classmates, and the story of Austrian Jews Nina and her younger brother following the directions of their deceased father to run away as fast as possible and let know one know they are Jews. 

Both set in the midst of World War II, as I followed these two stories that were happening simultaneously, it was really hard for me to believe that these two teens were living in the same world. As Nina and her brother were beginning for food and fighting for their lives, Julian was fighting to fit in and get away from his schoolmates taunting. They didn't quite face the same challenges, but I think that the challenges they each faced prepared them for when their two stories do eventually become one.

As I was reading, I kept wondering when their two stories would collide because that's the synopsis I'd been given. But looking back now I completely understand why Munn had to tell their stories separately first before bringing them together, and I think the book is better for it. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Knowing that is is based on the true story of a town in France that is admired for rescuing Jews during this troublesome time, makes it even better for me. It reminded me of the stories of other strong youth like Anne Frank and Elie in Night, and I recommend it to young and old. 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes. This review is my honest opinion.

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