Two stars. A million stars for Corrie and her family – that absolutely goes without saying. But as for the book itself? That’s the best I can do on a book that came highly recommended and that I read with relish as I had just been to Amsterdam and surrounding areas, visited the Museum of the Resistance and the old Jewish Synagogue referred to in the book. So why two stars?
I just didn’t believe a lot of what I read. Here’s what I do believe. I think Corrie, her sister Betsy, her father and other family members were courageous, passionate, religious, pro-active and bold. They did what many in Holland did, but what many chose not to do. They put their lives on the line to help with a very unpopular cause. They risked their necks to hide jews, feed them, comfort them and resist the authority of their German invaders. In that I find them commendable. The father figure was an admirable man, a man of principle who lived truly an exemplary life and imparted his teachings to not only his family, but all who surrounded him. A man of peace, but of strong determination. A man of immensely strong faith which he passed along to his children. So far, so good.
So what’s my squabble? The book was written a full 25 years after the facts, and I think it shows. Corrie was in her late 70’s when the book was written, and it was written by two people who weren’t there. The narrative at times becomes too convenient, too sugar coated. There were no fights amongst the throngs of people living in the beje. I think the old saying that “time heals everything” clearly applies to this book, as it seems to be a bit whitewashed in the veil of faith in Jesus to solve all, in prayers that constantly come through and in the miracle of the never ending vitamins. Call me a sceptic, but I found the constant references to Jesus annoying. I most certainly think we all believe in God when in the trenches, but I don’t believe in the Santa Claus God who gave to Corrie, but withheld from others who were praying just as hard. It came across as preachy and childish all these years later. So many people were hurt, humiliated, beaten, and brutally murdered — and I am sure just about each and every one of them prayed to their Jesus as well.
To end on a positive note — the faith that this family had, the true faith in doing the right thing — is admirable; when Corrie wrote “released” in her jail cell to signify the death of (blank so as not to print a spoiler), she showed a deep and profound faith in that death is not the end, only a fresh start in a better place. Her fortitude and strength were truly remarkable.