I have to say, this isn’t like any World War II novel I’ve read. Not only because it deals with a different theater of war (I normally read those of the home front or European theater), it shows such a different side of war, through the eyes of a 10 year old boy and is based on the author’s own family history. It’s a beautiful and poignant tale.
A boy coming of age in a time of war…
the love that inspires him to survive.
For ten year-old Jeremiah Prins, the life of privilege as the son of a school headmaster in the Dutch East Indies comes crashing to a halt in 1942 after the Japanese Imperialist invasion of the Southeast Pacific. Jeremiah takes on the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings when his father and older stepbrothers are separated from the rest of the family, and he is surprised by what life in the camp reveals about a woman he barely knows—his frail, troubled mother.
Amidst starvation, brutality, sacrifice and generosity, Jeremiah draws on all of his courage and cunning to fill in the gap for his mother. Life in the camps is made more tolerable as Jeremiah’s boyhood infatuation with his close friend Laura deepens into a friendship from which they both draw strength.
When the darkest sides of humanity threaten to overwhelm Jeremiah and Laura, they reach for God’s light and grace, shining through his people. Time and war will test their fortitude and the only thing that will bring them safely to the other side is the most enduring bond of all.
This isn’t an easy read. It’s honest, it paints a picture of what life was like (in some ways reminded me of Unbroken), from the evil humanity is capable of to the sacrifices people do for those they love. Gripping.
Even as I’m writing this review, I’m still processing the book. It’s that kind of book. It’s hard to imagine the type of stuff that went on, but it did happen. That’s war. People did what they had to do to stay alive. I can’t imagine the choices many, especially mothers, had to make (whether right or wrong, I can’t pretend to understand the desperation).
Brouwer also showed how war doesn’t end with the surrender of the axis powers. The effects often lasted generations. Yet, there is always hope to redeem and renew. Yep, these are characters who will stick with me.
“Our bodies are carriers of our souls. Too often we get lost in the physical world when our souls should focus elsewhere.”
What’s a recent book that’s stuck with you?
(Thank you to Blogging for Books for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)