Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sigmund Brouwer's "Thief of Glory" - a haunting tale

http://images.randomhouse.com/cover/9780307446497?width=1000&alt=no_cover_b4b.gifFocusing on the Pacific theater of WWII, Sigmund Brouwer tells the coming-of-age story of a boy whose life is forever tainted by war.  Ten-year-old Jeremiah Prin's life of privilege crashes to a halt the day the Japanese take over the Dutch East Indies.  With his father and older brothers taken away by the Japanese, Jeremiah becomes head of the family, taking care of his fragile mother and younger siblings as they are forced into an internment camp.  Amidst starvation, disease, and death, Jeremiah uses all his cunning to keep his family alive and together, but he cannot control their futures.  The war marks everyone, hardening some and breaking others.  But how hard can a child become before it hardens him forever?

 For the record, this book is the 2015 Christy Award winner of not just the Best Historical Romance, but also the Book of the Year. Believe me, it deserves it.

As in most instances when an author has a tangible connection to their story, this tale exudes passion.  Like Jeremiah's father, Brouwer's grandfather became one of over ten thousand of victims of the Burma railway, while the rest of the family was imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp.  Though the tales diverge from there, one can feel the author's heart for those who endured the atrocities. 

This book takes place in an interment camp - a place of abuse, death, and little hope.  To balance the moments of horror, there are moments of true inspiration - inspiration to be strong and fight, regardless of the consequences - not for personal gain or safety, but to protect those weaker than oneself.  To be able to stand on the judgement day, knowing one chose right.  Sophie Jansen is a brilliant example of this selflessness - would that we could all be like her!

Thief of Glory is a unique piece of christian historical fiction in more ways than one.  The majority of the story feels like it is being told from a ten-year-old boy's perspective, although we find out later it is an old man recounting his memories of the war.  Though there is a faint touch of romance, it is not remotely the focus of the story.  And unlike most christian fiction, it is not a feel-good book.  There are moments of humor, triumph, and inspiration, but this bittersweet novel is more haunting than uplifting, leaving the reader aching for the characters and the real people who endured such trials.

So be warned: if you're looking for a romance, a fluffy story to brighten your day, an escape from trials - don't read this book.  But if you want a book to challenge you, to paint you an unvarnished picture of what war can do, to warm you yet haunt you for days to come - then yes, absolutely read this book. 

Thank you  Blogging for Books for providing a free book for the purpose of review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.

Book related links:

Thief of Glory website
More Info
Read Chapter One
Author Bio




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