Original publish date: 8 October 2014
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
World War II, the Dutch, the Japanese, young affections, religion, a childhood lost, harsh realities of life, and hindsight providing clarity.
Sigmund Brouwer’s Thief of Glory follows a Dutch 10 year old, Jeremiah Prins, living in the Dutch East Indies in 1942. As the tides of World War II turn, the Japanese take over control of the Indies, much to the natives’ appreciation, and intern the Dutch into concentration camps. It’s shortly before the horror most of us associate with World War II and the Jews that Jeremiah meets Laura Jansen, a beautiful girl who gives him butterflies, and Georgie Smith, the boy who becomes in arch nemesis.
I felt immersed within the story as there was plentiful detail to paint a vivid scene of what was going on in the squalid conditions of the concentration camps in the Dutch East Indies. It was refreshing to encounter a World War II story that didn’t revolve directly around Europe, Hitler, and the Jews; being able to instead learn about the oft-ignored Pacific side of the war gave me a greater appreciation of the atrocities committed during the war and how much regionalism dictates what you’re made aware of.
The way that the story comes full circle with the ending of the book making note of the beginning, as it started seemingly chronologically but really in media res, was beautifully done and executed with impressive skill; however, if I were to nitpick on something that didn’t settle quite well with me, was how there was little indication of the story of his youth being a reminiscence of his older self, aside from phrases such as “as an old man” or “I would learn later.” To more fully flesh out a complete ouroboros, a greater indication at the start to establish Jeremiah as an old man would have been helpful. But as I said, that would be a personal preference of a nitpicking nature.
Overall, I’d give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars.