A Dutch teenager is caught in a web of wartime conspiracy.
When the German army invaded the Netherlands and Belgium, Michiel was 11. He thought war would be exciting and hoped it would last a long time. Now, in the winter of 1944, he wishes the war would end. The son of the mayor of a rural village, Michiel knows how to keep a secret. No longer able to attend school, he runs errands and helps his family give shelter and sustenance to people walking hundreds of miles to bring food to their families in famine-stricken cities. He also listens with pride to Uncle Ben’s stories of his resistance work. When Michiel’s neighbor is captured by the Nazis, Michiel becomes responsible for more secrets than he thought possible. As winter stretches on and Michiel strives to do the right thing, he becomes increasingly embroiled in dangerous situations that seem to precipitate terrible consequences. Originally published in Dutch in 1973 and newly translated here, this gripping tale of conspiracy and humanity is based on the author’s childhood memories of the war. Suspenseful third-person narration provides historically and culturally specific details along with insight into Michiel’s inner thoughts. The contradictions and the horrors of war are laid out in succinct, powerful prose. Winding to a quiet yet satisfying ending, Terlouw laments the never-ending cycle of war. All characters are assumed white.
A nuanced perspective on World War II and a testament to the power of a young person to resist. (Historical fiction. 12-16)