At their new home in the Villa Air-Bel, Aube and her family are used to things being hidden. Among the secrets kept at the château are a radio, a cow, and—most secret of all—Aube herself. Even with the threat of Nazi capture looming over their heads, life at the villa has been colorful for the refugees awaiting their escape to safety. Joined by writers, musicians, artists, and great thinkers like Marc Chagall and Max Ernst, Aube spends each day singing, playing games, and creating art. Together, this lively congregation are able to fight back fear and hatred with bravery and laughter—not just for young Aube, but for themselves as well.
Disclaimer: before you read on. I am frequently asked to analyze stories that I find difficult to place in a compass. These are always stories that I end up not liking, so I don't write about them. Who wants to see their story slammed? Not me. I chose this story because I LOVE the premise. To me, this story could have been an award winner had there been a clear and concise focus. After I had read this book, I saw the nugget as, In 1940, Aube Breton called an armoire her safe space as she hid in a villa waiting her turn to escape Nazi-occupied France.
Nugget: *** Here is where your nugget is vital: Inside the flap it tells you that the story is about bravery and hope honoring Varian Fry and Danny Benedite, who selflessly hid and smuggled over four thousand refugees out of Nazi occupied France. *** On the back of the book it says, In 1940, Aube Breton's family – along with other artists and writers – took refuge from the German soldiers in a magical villa in Southern France.
Two totally different nuggets that have no similarities. One even uses the word "magical" in relation to a nonfiction book.
Need Enticement: It begins by telling us that Aube's family moved from place to place trying to stay one step ahead of the German soldiers. --- I am over 100 words into the book, and I don't know why they want to stay ahead of the Germans.
Escalation: The story escalates from fun, laughter, hiding and making this a game of trying to hide from the Germans and raising money and throwing a party when a family is going to escape. We toss in some sadness of people dying of disease and starvation. They had a close call with capture, so they gather together for one last game.
Satisfying Ending: The story ends with a man named Danny being saved as rifles are pointed at him.
Sources: Lots of sources, photos, and what could be a gripping story.
Show Words: So many, too many. There are so many words that a child will interrupt a teach every minute to ask "what is that?," or "huh?"
Why: This is a vital story. People risked their lives to save others.
Need & Want: This was extremely hard for me due to the fact that there were so many strands of different stories. Although the book began as Aube's story, it ended as Danny's, and during it was Varian's.
*** A note from Kristen: The premise for this story is gripping and if tightened could be a tear jerker, hard to put down, on the lips of every person. As is, I was left confused and unsatisfied as a reader. This author knows her story; she has done her research there is no denying that. But, this book is a case of information dumping with no clear focus.