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The Night War by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The Night War (edition 2024)

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Author)

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344717,539 (4.21)3
"During World War II, twelve-year old Miriam secretly spirits other Jewish people out of Nazi-occupied France after being separated from her family and forced into hiding"--
Title:The Night War
Authors:Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Author)
Info:Dial Books (2024), 288 pages
Collections:Read, Reviewed
Tags:childrens, fiction, GR author, historical fiction, Holocaust, novel, orphaned and quasi-orphaned kids, speculative fiction

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The Night War by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

children's literature (1) France (1) kids (1) read (1) WWII (1)

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Miri's family moved from Berlin to Paris after Kristallnacht, hoping that France would be safer for Jewish families. Their tiny apartment in the Pletzl is a far cry from their home in Berlin, but at least they are together, and they have developed a close friendship with their next-door neighbors. When police arrive at the apartment to round up Jewish citizens, Miri is separated from her family and placed on a bus with her neighbors. The woman convinces Miri to take the toddler Nora, whom Miri has always considered a sister, and run before she can be herded into the vélodrome, where people are being detained. With help from a passing nun, Miri and Nora are rescued and sent away from the city. They are split up, and Miri is placed at a Catholic boarding school while Nora is adopted by a local Catholic family. Miri is determined to get Nora back and escape to Switzerland, where Nora has family, but she is under the strict eyes of the nuns at the school, and she doesn't even know where Nora has been placed. She'll need cleverness, luck, and help from surprising sources if she is to succeed in getting Nora and herself away to safety.

Bradley is an author that I count on for excellent historical fiction, and in this case she has once again delivered. Great characters, an interesting setting, and a compelling plot. I sometimes think that there are already too many World War II novels for middle-grade readers, but there's always room for a book this good. ( )
  foggidawn | Apr 26, 2024 |
I’ve been struggling to find the right books to read that will fit my moods but this book worked great for me. I had a hard time putting down this book and was almost always eager to pick it up when I had time to read. I read it over 3 days in only about 48 hours.

At the approximate 2/3 mark though it turned into fantasy, a ghost story, and at first I did not like or appreciate the mix. The turn of events did have me looking up a lot about a person and a place from further back in history. Catherine de' Medici and Grand Gallery at Chenonceau. I ended up being okay with the fantasy elements.

I did guess one thing early on, that blond Beatrice is also Jewish.

I did think that one thing she did was (sort of) out of character. Miri is rightly suspicious and not able to trust anyone yet she trusts Madame Simone so much that she tells her everything and almost right away. I can sort of see it but don’t really even though that worked out fine given what turned out with the circumstances, but then she made another dangerous confession to Jacqueline. *sigh*

It does get painfully suspenseful.

I really liked Miri/Marie. I admire her bravery and kindness and intelligence and maturity and understood her guilty feelings, however misplaced.

I also really liked Beatrice and her quick wittedness toward the end of the story and also the twist with Jaqueline. I loved two of the nuns too, and several of the other characters.

I was already familiar with some of the true events that were part of this story such as the Vélodrome d'Hiver (or "Vél d'Hiv") roundup.

The ending felt rushed but I should say that I seem to feel this way about the majority of books that I read.

The author’s note at the end was perfection. I read every word, every name.

Because I love this author so much I made a point of reading this book on its own and not comparing it to other books by her that I’ve read. I might want to read every book by her. So far I’ve read The War That Saved My Life (5 stars) & its sequel The War I Finally Won (5 stars) (both books I’d love to own, and to share) and Fighting Words (5 stars) and Jefferson’s Sons (4 stars) and now this one (4 stars) – all winners. I have three others on my to read list but I probably should add all of her books to that list. The Night War is an important book and I give it 4 full stars. ( )
  Lisa2013 | Apr 23, 2024 |
Miriam was born in Germany, but moved to Paris with her family after Kristallnacht. She speaks German, Yiddish, some Hebrew, and French fluently. When word of a coming round-up spreads through the Pletzl neighborhood, Miri warns everyone she can, but she and her neighbors still get herded onto buses (what is later known as the Vel d'Hiv roundup: Jewish people, including many French citizens, were transported from the velodrome to French concentration camp Drancy and then to Auschwitz; few survived). Thanks to a neighbor and a passing nun, Miri escapes between the bus and the velodrome, along with the neighbor's toddler, Nora, who Miri has always regarded as a sister. The nun shelters the two girls in Paris briefly, then arranges them to be sent to a Catholic school near the Vichy border, in the town of Chenonceaux, home of the Chateau de Chenonceau (where Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de' Medici each lived).

Miri is renamed Marie, and is separated from Nora, who is placed with a Catholic family who calls her Monique. Miri/Marie doesn't know who she can trust, but she's desperate to get Nora back and escape with her to Zurich, Switzerland, where Nora has family. Miri/Marie gets help from someone she slowly realizes is the ghost of Catherine de' Medici; she also becomes a passeuse, helping Jewish refugees escape across the border into Vichy. But when the Germans increase security and surveillance, Marie learns that the window for her own escape with Nora is closing. Is it safer to stay where they are, or to try to make it to Switzerland? Which choice will honor Miri's promise to Nora's mother?

Epilogue, author's note, acknowledgements, sources.
See also: Catherine's War by Julia Billet (graphic novel, translated from French)


"We don't choose how we feel, but we choose how we act. Choose courage." (Papa to Miri, 16)

How could I choose courage, when I didn't know which direction it ran? (48)

Jews believed that any law could be set aside in order to save a life. I would try to fit in among the Catholics to save mine. (70)

I was afraid to be rude to [Beatrice and Jacqueline], and I was afraid to be their friend. (79)

The more history you learned, the more you saw the same things happening, over and over, wars and hatred and fighting, people moving from one place to another in search of a safe place to live. Over and over forever. None of it made any sense. (203)

"You can't always believe what's in books," she said. "Who wrote the books? My enemies, or my friends?" (Catherine de' Medici's ghost to Marie, 213) ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 23, 2024 |
This was an unexpected story. I love that it centers and honors the choice of Jewish children and families in WWII to choose heritage over safety, to choose to remember their own stories. The fantastical elements worked for me, and Miri's deep connection to plants and gardening as well. I worry a little bit that the fact that there are fantastical elements might make Miri's choice to lead others to safety seem like an impossible thing as well, but I think that might be why I'm drawn to stories about WWII. There were so many people stepping up to do impossible or unlikely things, because they knew it was the morally right thing, the compassionate and human thing. Enjoyed the book very much -- the storytelling is compelling and engrossing.

Advanced Reader's Copy provided by Edelweiss. ( )
  jennybeast | Aug 9, 2023 |
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