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The Night War

By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Reviewed by Mia Macrossan

Bradley wrote the Newbery Honor Books The War That Saved My Life and its sequel The War I Finally Won, two heart-warming stories about a girl’s experiences in England during WW2. The Night War, again a middle grade novel, focuses on a Jewish girl’s experiences in WW2  but this time the story is set in France. .
In 1942, much of France is occupied by the Nazis. Twelve-year-old Miri is living in the Paris ghetto but becomes separated from her parents during a Nazi round up. She manages to rescue her neighbours’ two-year-old daughter Nora and escape to a village. Here she is given a new name and pretends to be Catholic to escape Nazi capture. Miri, now Marie, is at first wary of the convent school nuns and the girls staying over the summer. She is conflicted by guilt and indecision, hampered by fear and lack of knowledge and her constant worry about the fate of Nora and her parents.
Her village is near the castle of Chenonceau, on the border to Vichy France, so an escape may be possible. One night she is asked to undertake a terrifying task. But what about Nora? Does she really want to risk everything to help others escape to freedom when she is desperate to get away herself?
This is a compelling story about a girl’s struggle to survive, to keep her heritage and identity, during a dangerous time. Every decision she makes has life altering consequences. She encounters prejudice and  kindness, help and support when she least expects it. Bradley is adept at showing how differently people respond to the challenges of living in an occupied country. The introduction of a ghost that only Miri can see into this mix is an unusual touch. Through this character the reader learns about the history of Chenonceau and what has motivated people through the ages – money and power mainly, but also a respect for human life and freedoms.
Children will enjoy this exciting and action packed read and hopefully gain insight into how fear, power and prejudice impact on people’s lives. Miri’s experiences certainly resonate today when the world is still torn apart by war and prejudice. Her timely story is a heart felt plea for understanding that deserves a place in every school library.
Teaching Notes
Text Publishing 2024
Q & A  with KBB  about The Night War
 Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
1942 Amsterdam Ave NY (212) 862-3680

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