If there’s a young adult in your life, you can’t miss by introducing them to the talented mother/daughter writing team of Lydia and Heather Munn. Their debut novel How Huge the Night is a beautiful story of love and sacrifice among the teens in a small French village during World War II.
The main players in the story are Julien, Benjamin, Gustav, and Nina. Julien starts out with the typical goals, dreams, and fears of any fifteen-year-old boy. He resents being torn from his happy life in Paris to relocate to his father’s hometown. Even when his father explains his hope that the area is too rural and out of the way to interest the encroaching Nazis, Julien remains sullen and angry. However, God works in Julien’s heart through his grandfather’s godly wisdom, the circumstances of war, and the friendship he forges with the Jewish teen who boards with his family.
For the Jewish teens Benjamin, Gustav, and Nina, the war is a much different experience. While Julien wrestles with questions of conscience, these three struggle to survive. As the adults around them align themselves with either the freedom fighters or the Nazis, their lives depend on discerning who they can trust.
Here, the rich history of Julien’s town comes into play. The village had been founded by the Huguenots, who were seeking a haven from persecution, and soon the townspeople realize that they must be true to God and their heritage by welcoming any who flee to them for refuge–including Benjamin, Gustav, and Nina.
This book had all the elements I love in a story
- Depiction of setting and atmosphere that made me feel like I was there myself
- Events and struggles that drew me in
- Characters–not just the teens, but also key adults–who touched my heart
Some of the teen novels I’ve truly enjoyed (To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Giver, etc.) were great stories and contained moral characters who made hard choices. But few of those heroes were born-again Christians who acted out of biblical principles.
Too often, classic novels portray all believers as weak or hypocritical or too heavenly-minded to do anyone much good. So I especially appreciated the strong spiritual themes in this book as the folks explored their Huguenot background and heeded what Scripture had to say. And—how refreshing—the pastor of the town was one of its heroes!
This book was based on the true story of the town of Le Chambon, the only French town honored by Israel for rescuing Jews from the Holocaust.
***Thanks to the folks at Litfuse Public Relations for providing a copy of the book for me to review. Read more reviews from the book tour here.
The Kindle edition of How Huge the Night is only $5 right now. Follow this link to check it out at Amazon.com.
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.