Poised to win a scholarship to the nearby teachers college, Fing has high hopes. It’s 1938 and her poor family of nine—one father, four brothers, three sisters, and a grandmother—has finally managed to eke out a living in the tiny cigar factory abutting their dilapidated home. But smelling success, her dreamer of a father is determined to expand and Fing’s dreams fall apart when she instead has to go to work for the Cigar Emperor, taking care of his new, German wife’s eccentric niece. The novel’s gripping language, enriched by Yiddish, German, and Dutch dialect, plunges the reader into the world of a large, colorful, motherless family as they navigate the changes World War II visits upon their little town on the border of the Netherlands and Germany. This stand-alone follow-up to Nine Open Arms, a 2015 Batchelder Honor book translated from Dutch, is a fantasy, a historical novel, and literary fiction all wrapped into one.
6" (W) x 8.88" (H) • 376 pages • HCJ
AWARDS AND REVIEWS
★ "Hard battles form this satisfying novel's throughline, some fought in the open but most won or lost in the heart." —STARRED REVIEW, Kirkus Reviews
"One of the great postwar temptations for storytellers is to equip their characters with a moral clarity that comports with the judgments of history. Mr. Lindelauf resists this, instead conveying the bewilderments of the time as seen by unworldly children and teenagers. By 1940, for instance, German troops have moved into the town, and Fing tells us: “The only dead civilian was a man who had fallen from the church steeple. It was a strange story. Not only was the window in the tower so high up that it was just about impossible to reach . . . but the man who died was not even a Catholic but a Jew.” We’re also shown how other people’s suffering can seem peripheral until suffering comes knocking at our own door. In the early chapters, Fing’s father and older brothers seem like background figures until suddenly—shockingly—the Germans take them away. With great skill, Mr. Lindelauf lays out delicate narrative threads that he then ties together in unexpected ways in this tender, harrowing novel for readers ages 12 and older." —Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Wall Street Journal