About the Book (publisher’s description):
A boy coming of age in a time of war…the love that inspires him to survive.
For ten year-old Jeremiah Prins, the life of privilege as the son of a school headmaster in the Dutch East Indies comes crashing to a halt in 1942 after the Japanese Imperialist invasion of the Southeast Pacific. Jeremiah takes on the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings when his father and older stepbrothers are separated from the rest of the family, and he is surprised by what life in the camp reveals about a woman he barely knows—his frail, troubled mother.
Amidst starvation, brutality, sacrifice and generosity, Jeremiah draws on all of his courage and cunning to fill in the gap for his mother. Life in the camps is made more tolerable as Jeremiah’s boyhood infatuation with his close friend Laura deepens into a friendship from which they both draw strength.
When the darkest sides of humanity threaten to overwhelm Jeremiah and Laura, they reach for God’s light and grace, shining through his people. Time and war will test their fortitude and the only thing that will bring them safely to the other side is the most enduring bond of all.
My Thoughts on the Book:
This book made quite an impression on me. There were tears. Lots of them, at several different points. In fact, at one point, my comment to my husband about the book (because of those tears) was something like, “Enough already!” But the truth was, I couldn’t stop reading and didn’t want to, because the storytelling was just so good.
This story has a very literary vibe to it, and a writing style that had me smiling again and again at little details, perfectly placed. For example, who would’ve thought an explanation of the properties of rebar and concrete belonged at the start of a schoolyard brawl, but I couldn’t help but admire how well the incongruity worked. And certain scenes have really stuck with me in vivid detail.
As much as I enjoyed reading the book, I did have my reservations about how the story ended, specifically the twist revealed late in the book (which I won’t spoil for you). I’ll just say that a certain decision by the main character really bothered me, and leave it at that.
The faith element in this one felt pretty minimalist. I really only recall explicitly Christian elements in a handful of scenes, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this book would appeal to general market readers as well.
Thief of Glory gets my recommendation, particularly for discussion groups and those looking for a literary read with a distinctive voice. However, anyone particularly squeamish, may find some scenes… challenging. I am glad I read this book, and feel like I learned a lot from it, both about the history of that time and place, and about memorable storytelling.
Thank you to WaterBrook Multnomah for providing a paperback copy of this book free of charge.