It is October 1942 and 13-year-old Paul Lelaud is hiding in a bush with his friend, Antoine, by the railway station. They are watching Paul’s best friend, Emile, being shoved into a cattle truck along with many other Jews by the German soldiers who are occupying their town of Chinon, in France. They do not know where Emile is going, but instinctively know that he will not return. Half a year later, Paul starts a fight with his pro-Nazi teacher, Monsieur Armignac, and is sent to jail because of his violence. However, he is treated well there, and released soon after.
Soon after he arrives home, he learns a secret that his uncle has been keeping –– that he is a member of the French Resistance against the Germans. Paul is invited to join, and he eagerly accepts, fuelled by his hatred of the Germans after they killed his father several years earlier. Paul embraces his new role, and even after his second mission, he feels that he has been in the Resistance for many years, and feels that he has matured a lot. Yet, he never hesitates to participate in some of the dangerous activities that they carry out, which include working against the Germans constantly and their most dangerous mission –– smuggling a surrendering German official and English spy out of the country by plane in the dead of night.
I found this book engrossing, and was gripped at the end with the risky mission that they carry out. The time line and photos of the real French Resistance at the back of the book gave me a better understanding of this period in time. I would recommend this book to 12-15 year olds.