NINE OPEN ARMS by Benny Lindelauf
Kirkus Star


by ; illustrated by ; translated by
Age Range: 11 - 14
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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.

Young Fing is stalwart, compassionate and truth-seeking, but she is not an omniscient narrator, for she learns the intricate, tangled stories as they are doled out piecemeal by her grandmother Oma Mei, who is hiding as many secrets as the house. The work’s three-part construction weaves the events surrounding Fing’s family with an earlier cast of characters from the 1860s. Each part has a distinct tone and sensibility. In the first and third parts, Fing and her sisters rise to the challenges of life with their ever optimistic father, their somewhat inept older brothers, and the mad and mysterious Hatsi. All the while, they grow increasingly uncomfortable with the puzzles posed by the house and Oma Mei’s sometimes-contradictory tales. The middle part, Charley and Nienevee’s story, is narrated by Oma and has a darker and more sinister quality. Lindelauf lures readers into the intrigue and mystery of it all and then demands their intense concentration. Every element of the tale has a purpose, and in the end, the multiple layers of past and present separate and come together in surprising, often discomfiting twists and turns.

A challenging and entirely unique Dutch import. (translator’s note, character list, slang word list, map, contents) (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: June 24th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-59270-146-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2014


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