Title: When Paris Was Dark: A Sliver of WWII History
Author: Y.M. Masson
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Recipient of the Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Literary Award
When Paris Was Dark: The story of a young French boy during the WWII German occupation.
When five-year-old Alain, a little boy living in Paris, is strafed by German planes at the onset of the German invasion in 1940, his world is instantly turned on its head. During the next four years, like the children who fight to survive today’s many conflicts around the world, he grows up fast and must be mentally strong and alert to stay safe. With limited parental support, Alain and his young friends face increasing deprivation, devastating hunger, and constant fear of the occupying Germans soldiers, with their intimidating rules and random street blockades and checkpoints. He also dreads the Allies’ air raids, although he knows the bombers are on his side. After being silent for four years, one day all the churches of Paris ring their bells to celebrate the end of the occupation, and Alain welcomes the American GIs who fought bravely to liberate him. His story—of fear and courage, despair and determination—is laced with the realism only an author who lived through the occupation himself can provide, bringing this bittersweet, beautifully rendered novel to vivid life.
The 1940 German invasion has bombarded Paris but for five-year-old Alain, his world has turned upside down. He doesn't understand what's going on. All he knows is that he must survive, by all means necessary. Alain and his friends stick together and help each other through this war. He endures what no young boy should have to face: air raids, German soldiers, hunger, stark fear. When the bells start ringing in Paris announcing the end of the German occupation, he joins others in welcoming the American soldiers who have liberated them. This is one boy's witness account of WWII.
When Paris Was Dark is a compelling historical fiction tale from a viewpoint not written much about: a young child. War is hardest on the children and this is beautifully described in this book. Stark narration connects the reader with Alain right away. The emotional POV touched me deeply. The historical accuracy is well done and I commend the author on a well-researched novel. If you're a historical fiction fan and looking for a new spin on WWII, pick up When Paris Was Dark today. I can't recommend this book enough. I look forward to reading the next installment in this series.
My Rating: 5+ stars
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Born in Paris, as a young boy Yves Masson experienced the hardships of German occupation. Not yet five years old when he is strafed by German dive bombers, Alain learn about war, the random checkpoints and round-ups manned by the occupying army, the lines for food and the increasing scarcity of basic nutrition needs, the horrors of friends taken away, and the nightly fear of being buried in bombing raids. With his friends, Alain survives although being almost shot more than once. Never giving up hope, he welcomes the Allies who liberate Paris and thanks the GIs who freed him from oppression and gave him some of their food. After serving in the French army during the Algerian war, 15 years late, he left France for New York City in 1965 and became a United States citizen in the early seventies. He lived in New York, Georgia, and California, and has made Florida his home state since 2011. After working as a marketing executive in Corporate America and running his own consulting firm, Yves turned to the arts. He is an accomplished portrait artist, but he feels it is more important to share his life experiences with his readers. Yves knows what war does to people and especially to children. His ability to describe the daily fears, the devastating hunger pains, and the despair of deprivation and coercion draws his audience into the struggle for survival of his young characters.
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Reviewed by: Mrs. N