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.
Sigmund Brouwer is the best-selling author of nearly thirty novels, with close to 4 million books in print. Based on his inspiration for Thief of Glory, which Sigmund wrote as a way to learn and honor the his parent’s stories, especially of his father’s boyhood in a Japanese concentration camp, Sigmund leads The Chapters of Our Lives memoir seminars across the United States and Canada. Sigmund is married to recording artist Cindy Morgan and has two daughters.
I have been reading a lot of historical fiction this month. Some has been so-so and some has been outstanding. Sigmund Brouwer’s Thief of Glory falls into the latter category, earning from me a very highly recommended designation. This Christy Award winning novel is my book club’s (By The Book) July selection. Have you read it? What did you think?
Most Christian fiction set during WWII takes place in the European theater. I am not sure why that is, but I was pleased that Thief of Glory takes the reader into the mostly unknown history of the Dutch East Indies and its capture by the Japanese. A bit reminiscent of Empire of The Sun, Brouwer’s novel centers on Jeremiah Prins, a tough 10-year old Dutch boy, who finds himself the caretaker of his family as they are forced into a Japanese internment camp. Most of the novel takes place during the years of captivity, although there is a contemporary story line that sheds light on the impact of Jeremiah’s time in the camp.
Brouwer’s characters are complex and flawed, real and relatable, even when the circumstances they find themselves in are nightmarish to say the least. The will to survive, the sacrifice for others and the despair that accompanies cruelty are all exemplified in the women and children forced to endure a life that is beyond understanding. Thief of Glory is a very personal story, told from Jeremiah’s POV. History, science, architecture, medicine and ecology are seamlessly woven into the narrative, giving the reader a full view of life for the Dutch caught in the midst of war. The story behind the story detailed in the Afterword is fascinating as well.
Thief of Glory is marketed as historical romance and it won a Christy for that category. There is a romance thread, but in my opinion, it is secondary to the story of bravery and daring in the midst of despair. No spoilers here, but you won’t see the end coming. This alone should generate LOTS of discussion.
A must read for WWII fans, Thief of Glory is one of the best books I have read this year.
Very Highly Recommended.
Great for Book Clubs.
To purchase this book, click HERE.
(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)