Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review & Freebie: Defy the Night by Heather and Lydia Munn



I just finished reading Defy the Night by Heather and Lydia Munn.

The publisher describes the book this way:  "In the midst of war, one teenager is determined to make a difference.  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."

I asked the authors (a mother-daughter duo) how they chose to write a book about this topic.  I thought you'd like to hear their answers:

Lydia says: "When I was researching the events of World War II in France, I came across a book about the aid workers (almost all young women) who rescued Jewish children from the camps, and later, took them out of other dangerous situations to places where they could be safely hidden. I was so impressed by the courage and devotion of these young women, that I wanted their story to be told, alongside the story of the town of Le Chambon, which had first inspired me to begin this series. That was my inspiration for inventing the person of Paquerette, who embodies something of the experience of many of these aid workers."

Heather says: "After Mom asked me to be her co-author and revamp How Huge the Night (our first book) for her, and that worked out well and got published, this sequel was the second manuscript she had that needed a rewrite. So for me it was a question of "Here's this story, do you want to work on it?" Well, I wanted to help Mom, but there was more to it. The plot was good, and the history was truly fascinating. I found it interesting that you have these women doing this very heroic thing but the day-to-day actual work of it is largely childcare--as opposed to the usual strong & heroic girl character in fiction who's not considered impressive enough unless she fights. So I liked the chance that gave me to play with some interesting themes. And then there was Magali herself. I didn't like her at first--I identified more with the shy friend she's kind of mean to, actually!--but she just had this voice. I was out weeding strawberries one day and she just started talking to me. She said, "I just didn't know war was going to be so boring," and I had to go write it down. That settled it! I wrote Mom and said I'd do it."
I've never read a book about this time period, so their writing was very eye-opening for me.  The book was written with powerful descriptions, and I found myself feeling the character's emotions.  I could identify with the shock, fear, shame, courage, desperation, determination, and so many more feelings the Munns described.
 
There are so many good life lessons woven into the book.  Selflessness, service, vision, courage, taking a stand, utilizing your gifts, forgiveness, empowerment, family, devotion...
 
I would highly this book for anyone age 13+ that wants to learn about this era.  I would recommend reading it with a friend or a small group where you can discuss the character's struggles. It would be a great companion to a study unit on the war.

Finally, a SPECIAL for you!  You can download the book FREE today, and for $1.99 for the rest of this week.  Visit this site for more info - http://ow.ly/w3cud
 
I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
 




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