I’ve really enjoyed having my children on a summer swim team this year. It’s been good physical activity, the meets have been exciting, and I’ve had a lot of time to read during their practices. Last week marked the end of the season and the end of the sideways glances I draw from other mothers. Why? Because I am one of those people who laughs out loud at books. Sometimes, I tear up but my refusal to cry leaves me sniffling. I sigh, grunt, or nod my head in reaction to the scenes playing out in my mind. The newest addition to my bookshelf, Thief of Glory, earned me more quizzical looks that usual. I really got into this one! The book will be available in mid-August from WaterBrook Press. Much to my surprise, I won an ARC from Novel Crossing and I’d like to share my thoughts with you.
…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.
I was absolutely stunned by the ending of Sigmund Brouwer’s latest book Thief of Glory. It was so easy to get caught up in the drama of life within the Jappenkamp that I overlooked the clues that Brouwer placed throughout the text. Will you see them? Add this book to your TBR pile to find out!
Thief of Glory is the first title that I have read from Sigmund Brouwer. His writing style alone would lead me to pick up another one of his novels. The author’s voice and sentence fluency were delectable. My favorite aspect of this book was the wit Brouwer bestowed upon young Jeremiah Prins. I laughed out loud at the boy’s crazy antics and inner dialogue. Scenes where Jeremiah’s attempts to impart wisdom on his younger brother Pietje were both entertaining and a bit disconcerting (moms of boys will relate).
If, like me, you gravitate to historical fiction to satiate an inner desire to learn as you read, then you will appreciate this book. Before I began reading this story I was unaware that the Japanese, like the Nazis, had concentration camps. Many of the same issues that plagued the Jews also dogged the Dutch, who were confined in the Jappenkamp – infestations, disease, food shortages and death. In both instances desperate situations led to resilient faith and acts of heroism.
There are multiple heroes in this story. Jeremiah stands out because of the responsibilities he undertakes for a boy of his age. As a result of his mother’s mental illness, he becomes the parental figure – provider and protector for his three younger siblings. He uses strategy and cunningness to secure the food and medical care they need. Dr. Eikenboom and Laura’s grandmother Sophie are also heroes in their own right. Dr. Eikenboom tends to both the spiritual and physical wellness of her patients. While Sophie’s leadership bolsters morale within the camp and inspires the women to stand up against their oppressors. More often than not, the cost of heroism was steep.
After the first three quarters of the book the author transitions from WWII Dutch East Indies to modern day Washington D.C.. On account of the seven decade leap in time, I found the transition a little rocky at first. However, once I regained my bearings the remainder of the book had a lot to offer. It’s in this remaining portion that we see the full impact of Jeremiah’s internment in the Jappenkamp. The author’s revelations in these final pages will shock you!
About the Author:
Sigmund Brouwer is the best-selling author of nearly thirty novels, with close to 4 million books in print. Based on his inspiration for Thief of Glory, which Sigmund wrote as a way to learn and honor the his parent’s stories, especially of his father’s boyhood in a Japanese concentration camp, Sigmund leads The Chapters of Our Lives memoir seminars across the United States and Canada. Sigmund is married to recording artist Cindy Morgan and has two daughters. Readers can connect with him on Facebook & Twitter.