Review of The Night War, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The Night War

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Dial Books for Young Readers, on shelves April 2024. 288 pages.
Review written 2/4/24 from an Advance Readers’ Copy.
Starred Review

A new book from Kimberly Brubaker Bradley! This was one of the first books I read after I finished my Mathical Book Prize committee reading.

This book is set in France during World War II. The Nazis are in Paris, and Miri’s family and entire neighborhood are being rounded up. But her neighbor, Madame Rosenbaum, entrusts Miri with her baby, little Nora, and helps Miri escape. Couriers get her to a convent school in Chenonceaux, by the river that bordered the section of France not occupied by the Nazis.

The castle in town has stories of Catherine de Medici and Diane Poitiers, the women who established the gardens. The castle itself has a ballroom that is a bridge over the river with no other way to free France for miles around. After one of the nuns gets injured, Miri, who now goes by Marie, goes at night to the castle and helps people cross the river. She wants to go herself but she won’t leave without Nora, who has been given to a childless Christian family.

And while this is going on, Marie interacts with the other girls at the school, and she gets to explore the castle. A strange and imperious lady from the castle takes an interest in her and wants her to do the work of the old gardener, who died. As payment, she can bring food from the kitchen garden to the school.

I have always wanted to see the castles of the Loire Valley, so I especially enjoyed this book’s setting. (And a note at the end tells us which parts are true and which parts invented.) Miri is forced to have courage in a terrible situation, and she comes through with flying colors.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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