Reading How Huge the Night was like reading two books at the same time. Chapters alternate between Julien’s story and Nina’s story. The two seem unrelated through much of the book and don’t intersect for quite some time.
Julien’s story fascinated me. A teenage boy taken from his home in Paris to live with his grandfather in his father’s hometown, Julien is quite upset. He tries to fit in, but, though his family is from the area originally, the other boys in town see him as an outsider. Things only get worse when Benjamin, a German Jewish teenager, comes to live with his family for safety’s sake.
Did I mention the story is set in World War II?
Nina’s story disturbed me. When her father dies, she cuts her hair, disguises herself as a boy, and flees Austria through Italy to France with her younger brother. Two Jewish teenagers, alone and destitute, travelling through Europe, seeking safety, and trusting no one, one is hopeful and determined, one is terrified to the brink of near insanity.
Though I heartily recommend the book for adults, I have to question whether Nina’s part of the story is appropriate for all adolescents, the age group this book was written for. Maybe it’s okay. I recommend that parents preview the book and carefully consider what their kids are ready to read. Teenagers should know that World War II was atrocious, but they don’t need all the specifics. Parents should determine what their kids are ready to know.
How Huge the Night is a well-written historical fiction story based on actual events. It presents World War II through the eyes of teenagers trying to escape its horrors, trying to find God at work in the midst of them, trying to do right in the midst of so much wrong. Julien’s mentors—his parents, his grandfather, and his pastor—are strong, giving him just enough guidance as he makes big life choices. Overall, I recommend this book.
The Litfuse Publicity Group sent me a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.