Books by John Nieuwenhuizen

FING'S WAR by Benny Lindelauf
Released: June 11, 2019

"Hard battles form this satisfying novel's throughline, some fought in the open but most won or lost in the heart. (cast list, glossaries) (Historical fiction. 12-15)"
As if weathering adolescence weren't hard enough, war casts Fing into further maelstroms of terror and heartbreak in this sequel to Nine Open Arms (2014). Read full book review >
NINE OPEN ARMS by Benny Lindelauf
Released: June 24, 2014

"A challenging and entirely unique Dutch import. (translator's note, character list, slang word list, map, contents) (Fiction. 11-14)"
At the end of an isolated road outside a small village in Holland in 1937, Fing and her eccentric family find themselves in a strange house that gives up its secrets reluctantly and with far-reaching consequences. Read full book review >
A SWORD IN HER HAND by Jean-Claude van Rijckeghem
Released: June 1, 2011

"Marguerite's fearless spirit, the fast pace and the setting's gritty authenticity all elevate this noble historical novel above the rabble. (Historical fiction. 13 & up)"
Lady Marguerite, born in 1347 in Flanders, is determined to control her own destiny and not submit to the will of her domineering father, who wants to form an alliance by marrying her off to a repulsive English nobleman. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2006

This austere little example of Dutch magical realism takes readers to Amsterdam in 1951, into the life of nine-year-old Thomas, whose only ambition is to grow up to be happy. No wonder: His family belongs to a strict Calvinist sect; his father beats both Thomas and his mother; his older sister Margot copes by hiding behind nonsense. Although Thomas has given up on God, he has regular conversations with Jesus, who visits his head in times of need. He also has an ally in Mrs. Van Amersfoort, known to schoolchildren as the local witch, who may or may not be involved in the plague of frogs that descends on Thomas's house. Against the backdrop of a country still reeling from the Nazi Occupation, with its resisters and collaborators, this story of one family's dance with retributive justice in its many forms is held up as a mirror to its society. It's a deceptively simple tale—the third-person limited narration so thoroughly focused through Thomas's own innocent yet warped understanding of reality—that demands sophisticated readers. Those who open themselves up to it will be repaid. (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2004

This beautiful, solemn, heavy retelling of the story of Noah's ark is narrated in first person by Re Jana, a dark-skinned young woman of a different race from Noah's light-skinned family. Re Jana's family journeys from marshlands to seek a rumored ship that's being built—inexplicably—in a desert. Nobody understands the project; only the Builder and his family know the purpose. Re Jana ponders (is it a landmark for posterity? a religious sacrifice?) while readers bear the brunt of knowledge about the upcoming flood. Re Jana becomes inextricably bound up in the Builder's family by falling in love with his son Ham, who returns her love, and by performing her special oil-and-water massages on family members. Suspense slowly builds as the lands dampen. Consider this poetic, substantial piece a YA/adult crossover. The ending is both sad and relieving as it touches both the bible and the modern political world. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
WHAT ABOUT ANNA? by Jan Simoen
Released: May 1, 2001

"I am Jonas. I am dead," opens Anna's older brother whose body was ravished by AIDS five years ago. Now, in Belgium in 1999, Anna and her family are still haunted by Jonas's death, as well that of her oldest brother, Michael, who died three years ago, along with his girlfriend, Marta, both of whom were working for UNICEF in Bosnia when their Land Rover struck a mine. They are troubled more by Michael's death, however, because medical examiners could not identify the bodies with absolute certainty. About to graduate from high school in a few days, Anna receives a letter from Hugo, Michael's best friend, stating that he has been in contact with Marta and that Michael may be alive. Why write to Anna? Out of everyone who knew both Jonas and Michael, Anna has a future ahead of her. So begin family secrets, meetings with new friends and friends from the past, connections to Serbian nationalists Arkan and Slobodan Milosevic, and Anna's role in bringing the past and future together. Simoen, in his debut, divides the novel into three distinct parts. The first presents the cast of characters through chapters told from their own points of view, but it's not until the second part, which presents the problem and focuses solely on Anna, that it takes on the feel of a YA story. The conclusion comes about in a letter to a key player who assisted both Jonas and Michael. The intriguing plot, driven by extremely realistic dialogue and interior monologues, reveals Simoen's background as a dramatist. Although the original Dutch text was award-winning, this translation into British English will only be appreciated by the most sophisticated teen readers who are familiar with details of recent Balkan history and who can identify with the emotions and life experiences of Anna and the adults around her. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >