CreateSpace, $9.00, 298 pages
River in the Sea is a WWII coming of age story set in Friesland, Netherlands. Based on her parents’ accounts, author, Tina Boscha, writes tragically, sensitively and honestly about life on the harsh North Sea coast during the German occupation.
Boscha’s 14-year-old protagonist, Leen De Graaf, is drawn to the universal teenage peccadilloes of smoking, makeup, and driving. Leen also works as a household servant and a field hand, spending nights “underground,” sleeping in neighbor’s barns to avoid German raids. A series of tragedies causes Nazi soldiers to suspect her family of anti-German sentiment which triggers her father going into hiding, losing all contact with his family. Leen’s mother suffers from depression — spending days on end in bed — leaving her children to care for themselves.
The author chronicles ordinary life in the 1940s — like food preparation and church services as well as the extraordinary such as dissembling a vehicle to keep it from German seizure. She explores the need for teenagers to be a part of the adult world at the same time needing to be assured of familial safety and love. The book is well written and historically significant. The readers will find themselves drawn into the period and the problems this family transverses on a daily basis.
A thorough rendering of details causes the book’s pace to be cumbersome in places. An inordinate number of passages are attributed to the main character’s visceral reactions—enough to be distracting. But the story is interesting and praise worthy and Boscha has best-seller potential.
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