Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

A Midnight Clear is a warm, large-hearted novel about a gruesome subject—warfare—and the ways in which that experience transcends time and indelibly marks its participants. There is no question that the work is a serious attempt at the demystification of heroism and a demonstration of the futility of killing. Nevertheless, the novel also asserts the saving grace of the human spirit and the ways in which true heroism emerges from unselfish, caring concern for others.

The book is divided into six chapters that trace the experiences of a group of soldiers on a reconnaissance mission in the Ardennes Forest in December, 1944. The events are conveyed through the perspective of a subjective narrator, the protagonist Will Knott, who gives the reader a privileged view into his mind and heart and those of his five compatriots. Knott is a born storyteller, although he is unaware of his abilities and claims that he has “a penchant for telling true stories no one can believe,” thus preparing the reader for a sensational tale. Knott punctuates his recounting with brief asides to the audience and glimpses into events that transpire after the central ones of the narrative.

Knott and his colleagues are the survivors of a squad that was attacked in Saarbrücken, Germany. These young men were abruptly dropped at the front although they were originally recruited to be educated at universities because of their superior intelligence. Their division...

(The entire section is 508 words.)