Defy the Night
Magali Losier is a teenager in 1941 occupied France. While fighting back against the regime by helping her pastor work with refugees, she learns of an aid worker called Paquerette who brings children out of internment camps. The “final solution” has not yet been enacted, and children can be brought out of the French camps and put into the care of aid organizations. Magali begins making trips with Paquerette to rescue the children, but her impulsiveness gets her into trouble. Magali is kind to a convalescent German soldier, which brings repercussions, and she gets in trouble again when her impetuous attempts to distract the Vichy police from arresting a Jew results in Paquerette being thrown into prison.
Kregel is a Christian publisher so I expected a heavy religious slant, but such content was actually minimal. The setting is extremely interesting; I previously didn’t know much about daily life in the “free zone” of France during the early part of the war. Magali is sometimes a difficult character to like, rather immature and self-centered. But she struggles to come to terms with her faults and eventually attempts to grow past them. The plight of the children she rescues is especially moving. A historical note explains the background information not covered in the plot, and tells what happened to real-life rescuers later in the war. This book is a coming-of-age novel in an unusual setting, but the subject matter would be on the heavy side for young teenagers. Recommended for older teens and adults who want to learn about a rarely-studied facet of World War II.