Review of Winter in Wartime

Winter in Wartime
by Jan Terlouw; trans. from Dutch by Laura Watkinson
Intermediate    NYRB    220 pp.    g
Paper ed.  978-1-68137-426-0    $12.99
e-book ed.  978-1-68137-427-7    $9.99

In a village in the Netherlands, in the winter of 1944–45, teen Michiel van Beusekom becomes involved in anti-Nazi resistance activities — hiding and feeding a wounded British airman, smuggling two Jewish men out of the area — all the while knowing that someone in the village is betraying the cause. The pace is fast; the action is riveting; the mystery of the traitor’s identity is compelling. But this is no “adventure novel”: it’s about war and fear and deprivation, told from personal experience (the book is based on the author’s own boyhood). As such, it has a strong anti-war message: “Don’t be fooled, Michiel, by the romance of war, heroism, sacrifice, excitement, adventure. War means injuries, grief, torture, imprisonment, hunger, hardship, injustice. There’s nothing romantic about it.” First published in 1973, this Dutch classic has been in print in Holland continuously since its publication — and deservedly so.

From the July/August 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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