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Review of, The Girl From Huizen, by Paulette Mahurin

Both of my parents are first generation immigrants from the Netherlands. They moved to Canada as small children with their families just after WWII. I grew up in a community of Dutch Immigrants, most, if not all, the older adults had been through the war. For the most part, no one spoke about it, at least not to me, and I never asked. I think that even as a child I sensed the topic was too painful.

My Grandfather passed before I was born, and my Grandmother lived in the front section of our large farmhouse. Whenever a thunderstorm rolled in, she would stay in our half until it was over. Those storms frightened her so bad. My Mom always said that it was due to the severity of the storms in the Netherlands, and I never openly questioned her on that. However, I sometimes wonder if those thunderclaps sounded a bit too close to the booms of dropping bombs.

My Dad once told me that his family used to hide Jews on their farm. One day, they got word that German soldiers were making the rounds and would be at their place soon. I’ve never learned anymore details about the story, other than what’s written here. He would have been just a toddler, so I’m sure that this information was handed down from my Grandparents or one of his older siblings. It’s unclear as to how many guests, or the exact scenario that led to the decision to use the following means to keep them safe.

So, here goes. Before the Germans arrived, they hid the guests inside large haystacks. They must have been very large stacks indeed, because the German soldiers jabbed their bayonets into them. Thankfully, the blades never reached anyone hiding inside. No doubt, the family must have breathed a collective sigh when the soldiers moved off. If the Jews had been found, everyone would have been shot on sight.

As I got older, my fascination with this era grew. After all, it’s a large piece of my family history that’s been forever blackened out.

When I heard about this book, I knew that it was going to reach the top of my TBR in short order.

What Amazon Says:

The German occupation of the Netherlands brings with it food shortages, harsh treatment for resistants and deportation of Jews. The changes dramatically affect Rosamond Jansen’s life on her family’s farm on the outskirts of Huizen. When she finds herself under constant surveillance and oppressive treatment in her government typist job and the Nazis deport her best friend, her resentment turns to fear and a deepening hatred. Verbal cruelty, belittlement and emotional turmoil take their toll on her until a man arrives at the farm who, along with her uncle from Amsterdam, enlist her father into resistance work. When her father does not return home, Rosamond, too, is drawn into resistance activity. As more people disappear from her life, her involvement goes deeper, bringing her to a villa in Huizen where a woman named Madelief has a secret. As Rosamond becomes close to Madelief and the secret is revealed, her life starts to unravel. Based on actual events at the villa, The Girl from Huizen tells the story of how Rosamond, working with Madelief, dared to defy the SS and their collaborators. But this is no ordinary Resistance versus Nazi story, rather it is a story of a shocking and unexpected unfolding where flames of tension ignite the page, as loss and grief consume and drive the girl from Huizen. It is a powerful story about the trusting friendship between two women. Ultimately The Girl from Huizen is a homage to the brave resistance members who risked everything to fight against Nazi oppression. Their efforts saved thousands upon thousands of lives.

My Thoughts:

The courage and selfless sacrifices of many of those who lived in occupied Netherlands is adroitly portrayed in this page-turner. Rosamond Jansen is a typical teenager who’s forced to grow up way too fast after Hitler’s armies roll into her home country. An ordinary girl facing extraordinary circumstances.

This book is exemplary in recreating flesh and bone history. The “go it alone” superheroes are in absentia. Everyone must work together, doing their part; motivated by both personal justifications and collective goals.

Rosamond tires of eating potatoes everyday and hates the invaders. She squares off against sheer terror, the desire for revenge, and the person in the mirror. She turns bitterness into action that saves many, while clinging to the hope of someday.

This is a refreshing tribute to the helpers in our world. A reminder that no matter what, there are always those who are willing to put everything on the line and stand up to tyranny.

Kudos to Paulette for her flawless delivery.

I highly recommend this book for those who wish to find the roses among the ruins.

Meet Paulette and check out her books:

Paulette Mahurin is an award winning international best selling literary fiction and historical fiction novelist. She lives with her husband Terry and two dogs, Max and Bella, in Ventura County, California. She grew up in West Los Angeles and attended UCLA, where she received a Master’s Degree in Science.


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