“Theif of Glory”, raw and real, a book review

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theif of glory

Book Review: Thief of Glory
Author: Sigmund Brouwer

I received this book, Thief of Glory, from the Blogging For Books program, in exchange for this review.
Favorite line from Thief of Glory: “A banyan tree begins when its seeds germinate in the crevices of a host tree. It sends to the ground tendrils that become prop roots with enough room for children to crawl beneath, prop roots that grown into thick, woody trunks and make it look like the tree is standing above the ground. The roots, given time, look no different than the tree it has begun to strangle. Eventually, when the original support tree dies and rots, the banyan develops a hollow central core.” –Thief of Glory, pg. 1

The Thief of Glory takes us to the Dutch East Indies in 1942 and into the home and lives of a wealthy Dutch family, the Prins. The story’s hero, the 10 year old marble enthusiast and closet romantic, Jeremiah, finds his world stolen from him as the Japanese invade the East Indies and separate his family. Jeremiah, his Mother, younger brother and twin sisters are thrown into a concentration camp where Jeremiah’s goal, and promise he made to his father, is to take care of his family…and survive. In the book, we see Jeremiah as he is forced into adulthood, falls in love, and sees the darkest sides of the human heart.  Will Jeremiah and his family survive? And if he does, at the end of it all, who will he be?

Thief of Glory was not a book written for the feint of heart. It wasn’t fields of flowers and sunshine. It was written realistically with characters that were real and flawed, like us all.  Ultimately, Thief of Glory is about the choices we must make in life- to do good or evil; to take revenge or to forgive; how far we would go to survive. This book was deep, making its reader think.

A truly good book is about its characters. When you feel what the character feels, when your heart breaks when something bad happens to them, or when you feel happy when the character gets the girl,  the writer has accomplished his goal. When Jeremiah first enters the book, I didn’t like him. I was like, this kid is a total brat! And…a little on the violent side, in a scary way. As I kept reading, the author started to reveal more and more of who Jeremiah was and what his family was like. As I read, I felt like I knew Jeremiah, I felt like he was a real person. He seemed like he was someone I played with in the dirt when I was a little kid. As Jeremiah is forced into an unimaginable and horrible situation,  I saw Jeremiah as a fighter, someone who had courage, someone who would do anything for his family, and someone who was thrust into becoming a parent when all he really wants is for his parent (his Mother) to take action and be the parent, and someone who struggles (like us all) against the darkness lurking in his own heart. I commend Sigmund Brouwer on his characters! At one point in the book I paused and wondered, “Is this a TRUE story?” I swore I had found it in the fiction section! I even had to double check the back of the book to find that little word “Fiction”. By the final chapters of the book I was completely involved in the characters, my heart filling with pain as Jeremiah endured one horror after the next, begging him, “don’t do it! Pleasssseee don’t do it!” As I read those final chapters, I felt almost depressed. When things started looking up, those last few pages, I read in horror. I don’t want to give too much away, but the end I read over twice, just to make sure I read it right. I was shocked and horrified by the ending. For hours after finishing the book, I couldn’t sleep…and I shed a few tears.   I literally felt like shouting, “Jeremiah, NOOOOO!!”. The book was so real, so raw.Yet, for being shocking and horrifying, the Thief of Glory ended in hope, because with God, there is always hope.

Final thoughts: This book was very realistic and very well written, totally making me become involved emotionally. I was glad a book that was filled with so much darkness, offered a rays of sunshine, throughout it. There were moments of true courage and motivating compassion and kindness. And in the end,  it offered hope. I don’t really have any bad comments about Thief of Glory, the writing was superb, the research fantastic, the story moving and tragic all at once. Be warned: this book is hard to read, knowing that this story was inspired from true events, that many things Jeremiah went through actually happened to people. But, I would call it a good read, with a good message.

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