River in the Sea, by Tina Boscha
Title: River in the Sea
Author: Tina Boscha
Originally Published: 2011
Format I Read: Kindle
I received this book for free from the author. All content and opinions are my own.
Tina Boscha contacted me a few weeks ago, asking me to read her self-published historical fiction novel. I was captivated by her email and her description of the book – which is based on her mother’s experiences during the German occupation of the Netherlands. So, I agreed to read River in the Sea. And I’m so glad I did.
I tend to particularly enjoy historical fiction set during World War II, especially books set in Nazi Germany. That sounds a little perverse now that I set it out like that. Think The Book Thief, The Devil’s Arithmetic, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Anyway, this book, River in the Sea, is a nice addition to the genre.
Leen De Graaf, our heroine, is a typical fifteen-year-old. Meaning, she wants to do everything she shouldn’t. But, in the context of the German occupation and a war, her attempts at teenage rebellion have dramatic consequences for her and her family.
She never should have come. She’d been taught this lesson from her earliest days: one sin begat another. A tiny snowball could grow so powerful you could not stop it.
I was riveted within a few dozen pages as one of the pivotal events of the book unfolded. Right riveted. The writing, while a little slow to start, ended up being expressive yet understated. And the pacing was so well done – I could not put it down. But my favorite thing about River in the Sea turned out to be the finely wrought characters. Leen is a lovely narrator, full of teenage insecurities, guilt, curiosity, recklessness, and dreams. She, at all times, felt authentic. And her family and friends and neighbors are drawn so well that they add a rich texture to the book. I love character-driven books, and this is one of them.
The only weakness I felt in the whole book was a slight lack of background information. It is set in Friesland, Netherlands, which is apparently the name of the place and a specific ethnic group. I craved more information about the ethnic group, the implications of the occupation, like the oft referenced raids for men and boys, and the general layout of the town and the family home. Still, I was able to piece all of the necessary information together.
River in the Sea is well-written, well-paced, and contains lovable and authentic characters. I’m rather shocked that this book has not found a publisher.
River in the Sea, by Tina Boscha [rating:4]
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