It’s 1941 in Paris, and Danielle Marton’s life changes forever when a German soldier murders her father in the streets of the city. Sensing a shift in government, and afraid for their future, Danielle’s mother sends her daughter into hiding. Danielle can no longer be a twelve-year-old Jewish girl, but has to take on the identity of Marie-Jeanne — the orphaned niece of Claude and Berthe Chantier.
At first, Danielle struggles to make the change and has difficulty grasping the severity of her situation. She sees Marie-Jeanne as a game, as if she is playing dress-up with her friends. It is not until later in the war that we see Danielle forgetting her previous life and fully adopting Marie-Jeanne’s identity.
As the title suggests, Danielle fights with the idea of good versus evil. In school, she is taught that Jewish people are different, with different blood and DNA, yet she herself does not feel any less French than her classmates. She is told that anyone who goes against the government is a rebel and should be arrested — but she finds that when she follows these rules, she only brings her friends and family pain and suffering.
Tara Ison writes in swift prose that generates anxiety. She also shows how quickly kids had to grow up while in hiding. Readers watch Danielle go from a frightened, teary-eyed young girl to a brave young woman facing Vichy officials and traveling alone throughout Nazi-occupied France.
Even though Ison’s book is set in the 1940s, it is much more than a Holocaust story. She writes about a number of themes that are chillingly relevant to today’s society: the rise of fascism, hatred, antisemitism, and the impact the Vichy government had on French schooling during the occupation.
At the Hour Between Dog and Wolf is a perfect read for book clubs and readers who enjoy Holocaust and political literature. It is a timely book that invites conversations about history repeating itself.
Arielle Landau is the Jewish Book Council’s program associate. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin where she studied Journalism. Before joining the Jewish Book Council, she spent two years working at Boston University Hillel as an Engagement Associate and a year working at Club Z as an Educator and NY Regional Coordinator. She has written op-eds for London-based multi-media start-up, ShoutOutUK, and worked with the Austin American-Statesman’s social media department for her university’s Senior Capstone.