Isabelle Mauriac is kicked out of school and returns to Paris, to live with her dad, right as the city is fleeing from the horrors of WWII. Isabelle's father sends her away, to the countryside and her sister Vianne. The journey there is almost impossible. There's not enough food, they get shot at, and people are left behind. Isabelle meets Gaetan along the way and they talk about doing more for their country. Gaetan sees Isabelle to her sister's house and leaves her abruptly.
Isabelle isn't happy in the countryside. Though she's only a teenager, she wants to help her country rather than sitting and waiting for the war to come to her. She starts by distributing anti-Nazi flyers and eventually ramps up to rescuing downed airmen across the Pyrenees. Her code name: Nightingale.
This is a moving story about human fortitude. The two sisters follow very different paths but eventually wind up with similar stories by putting their lives at risk to help those during the war. Isabelle knew right away that she wanted to do something good for her country. It took longer for Vianne to reach this point and she made mistakes that put her friends at risk. But when finally confronted with doing the right thing, she did it. The fact that these two sisters arrived at similar fates in such different ways was incredibly realistic and touching at the same time.
Deep down, this is a love story. But it's not a sappy love story. Instead it's about how those during the times of war can communicate their love to each other, or how they can't.
Though the ending was neat and tidy, I absolutely loved this book. Best read of the year!