Tuesday, June 8, 2021

33. Chasing Shadows

Chasing Shadows. Lynn Austin. 2021. [June] 432 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Every sound in the coal-black night seemed magnified as Lena lay awake in bed, waiting. She heard the quiet rustlings of the shadow people as they crept through the darkness downstairs in her farmhouse.

Chasing Shadows is historical fiction set in the Netherlands during the Second World War. It features multiple narrators whose stories alternate throughout. Lena de Vries is a wife and mother (and daughter). Ans de Vries is a young woman who CANNOT wait to leave the rural farm life far, far, far behind. She's off to the 'big' city. But will it hold all the thrills that she feels she's been missing out?

Both narrators are tested by the experiences of the war--not only the initial Nazi invasion but the continued occupation of their country. Each faces a choice--as all residents did--do I comply with the Nazis? Do I play it safe and just wait and hope that it will all work itself out OR do I risk it all to follow my conscience? Does doing nothing mean that you support the Nazis and what they are doing? Can you oppose the Nazis AND sit idle? 

There IS a third narrator--a Jewish one--that also enters into the story, a young woman named Miriam. 

Chasing Shadows is an engaging, character-driven historical novel with substance. It is beautiful and haunting. There are a few scenes that stand out as being truly wonderful. I do think it would make a good film.

“Jesus said the most important commandments are to love the Lord your God and love your neighbor. And so, whenever we face a dilemma, we can ask, What is the best way to show our love for God and for our neighbor?”

Then, unbidden, the words Ans had been made to memorize in catechism class swirled softly through her mind: “I am not my own, but I belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. . . .”

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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