The night war by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

cover image

The award-winning author of The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, has again written an enthralling middle-grade novel which clearly shares the horror of events in World War Two as well as the brave actions of those who fought against the Nazi regime.

Miri has been forced to flee Germany and move to Paris with her mother and father after Kristallnacht. Her family lives simply in cramped conditions in Pletzl, a mainly Jewish community. On the day of the round up, where thousands of Jews are taken to the Velodrome d’Hiver, Miri escapes with Nora, her two year old neighbour and is taken in by a well-meaning Catholic nun. Miri and Nora are offered a shelter until they can be taken to safety in a village close to the French Free Zone of Vichy. In order to be safe, Miri must become Marie and learn to live within the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Deeply concerned about her separation from Nora, Miri is placed in a convent where she struggles with trust, with her religious identity, and the fear that she lacks courage. She forms a friendship of sorts with Beatrice and Jacqueline but is not a close bond and there are always secrets. Some of the Sisters also have secrets and Miri is chosen to help them with their clandestine activities. This in turn leads her to Madame Simone at the Castle Chenonceau and Miri’s discovery that all is not as it first appears.

While The Night War is an engaging fiction read, it is based loosely on documented facts. The author has included important notes at the end, and with some interesting historical facts, a ghostly twist and strong female characters, this novel will be a compelling read for middle-grade children. Teacher's notes are available.

Themes: World War Two, Jewish Persecution, Sacrifice, Fear, Courage, Danger, Choices, Kindness, Secrets, Religious Beliefs.

Kathryn Beilby