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The Boy Between Worlds

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  1,464 ratings  ·  126 reviews
This is the emotionally stirring story of unlikely lovers who brave the bigotry of their era, only to be victims of the even larger forces of history at work in World War II. The plight of Anna (a lively and charismatic woman) and her much younger second husband Waldemar (an immigrant from the Dutch colony of Suriname), and the fate of their only child, Waldy, after his pa ...more
Kindle Edition, 218 pages
Published August 1st 2019 by Amazon Crossing
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4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,464 ratings  ·  126 reviews

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Jul 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I love reading books from this era.

However, this one reads more like a history book than a traditional non-fiction book. It took me several attempts to get into the style of writing this author has. I found the background of the characters at the beginning of the book and several pages into it convoluted and quite difficult to follow as there were so many of them. Really long paragraphs, no dialog, just quoting letters, comments from other people, and diaries.

Having said that, I am over 1/2 fi
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Boy Between Worlds: A Biography was written by Annejet Van Der Zijl and translated by Kristen Gehrman. When I chose this book, I was looking at ebooks on Amazon’s Prime list. As a Prime member I was able to get two books from books from all over the world list for free, so I looked them over and this one just stood out. Even when I finally got around to beginning it, I had no idea what the book was about. I hadn’t even looked carefully at the cover and noted that it was a biography, I just t ...more
This book, translated from the Dutch, is a touching, sometimes very frustrating, account of the lives of people who were not famous; it also covers topics not usually brought to life.

Accounts of some history of Suriname, of the lives the colonials lived between the World Wars, the later use of its natural resources to support American military forces in WWII, the situation of Dutch Jewish colonials in Suriname, the relationship of slavery to Dutch navigators and settlers, and several other topic
Cindy Woods
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Amazing WII story

This is a great story about an amazing couple from the Netherlands pre and during WWII.

This story of a mixed race couple, her a married, white woman many years older than her Suriname born, black lover who meet in the Netherlands several years prior to Hitler's devastating march and takeover of the country brings nothing short of respect and admiration. Not only do they appear to have nothing but absolute positive things remembered about them, they were an active part of the Dut
Janice Bates
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I chose this book as a freebie from Amazon Prime. As I love historical fiction and non-fiction, it was a great selection for me.

In a time when it was tabu for the races to mix, Rika from the Netherlands and Waldemar from Suriname were an unlikely couple. She was, in fact, a married woman. Her husband had her four children from their union and he made life miserable for her. And until she became pregnant by her younger lover, he thought she would come back to him.

Then, in the midst of the Great
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Amazing human story about a white Dutch woman and her much younger black Suriname lover-turned-husband from before World War II and leading into the midst of the conflict. The book delves into individuals backgrounds before the couples' eventual meeting, the ensuing relationship, and finally their struggles during the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands.

I'm very pleased with this Amazon First Reads pickup and while the book is "new", apparently it's been around and beloved for many years over in th
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A biography of regular people who did great things during WW2

I have always read whatever I could about the war. It seemed so far away but since I was born in 1963 it’s crazy how close I was to all of it. I pray history NEVER repeats itself. This did happen and the author brought back to life some dear people who did brave things. It was easy to read, written in story form but referenced to real life happenings.
Karna Converse
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-on-kindle
An important WWII story from the Netherlands that is hard to put down and difficult to forget.

James Lurie
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wasn't quite sure what this book was when I opened it, and it started slowly. But it picked up quickly. The true (and well documented) story is a complex family history covering the joining through marriage of Protestant and Catholic families in the Netherlands in the early 20th century and the eventual failure of that marriage. Following that separation, the wife meets and falls in love with a young man from Suriname (Dutch Guiana at the time) who comes to the Netherlands for an education. He ...more
Sandra Gonzales
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it

This novel was very well written, however it was difficult to read past a certain point. The first part of the book regarding family life was extremely good until the part that graphically explained the horrors of war and what the Germans did to their enemies and the Jews in the concentration camps.
The last half of the book was terribly brutal and sad.
Judith Gilmore
Jul 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
Glad it was free

The is the worst first pick ever! I couldn't make it through 12% of the book. Will delete from my library
Jo-The Hopeless Romantics Book Blog
An unforgettable true story

A powerful true story about love and the sacrifices people made during the darkest of times. Heartbreaking and unforgettable. A must read.
Helen Mccabe
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this whole book in one sitting. The beginning, The River, 1923, intrigued me because of the descriptions of nature around Paramaribo which I have never heard of before. The hero, Waldemar's connection with the river, which was almost human, "the river played just as mysterious a game with the wind... a stealthy killer that's what she was" and which was his playground "the water was his friend" and affected his life so proundly made me read more. I recognised the name of Surinam, but knew ...more
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-read
Book Review: The Boy Between Worlds
Author: Annejet van der Zijl
Translator: Kristen Gehrman
Publisher: Amazon Crossing
Publication Date: August 1, 2019
Review Date: August 15, 2019

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From the blurb:
“...the true story of an unconventional family divided by war and prejudice during WWII.

When they fell in love in 1928, Rika and Waldemar could not have been more different. She was a thirty-seven-year-old Dutch-born mother,

This was for me yet another part of WW2 that I never knew about nor even thought about. This tragic true story of an unlikely couple swept up in Nazi-era Holland is a fascinating tale of survival and loss. Rika, the main character, is an independent woman, mother of four, who leaves her controlling husband to make her way on her own. I had a lot of trouble keeping the Dutch names to the persons they belonged to throughout the book. That was frustrating and took away the total enjoyment of the bo
Graham Humpage
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it
The holocaust is a central subject that has been expanded upon in so many ways over the years, but the aspects of normal everyday life affected by the German occupation of Holland, made for very interesting reading. It is clear from the writing style of the author that a journalistic approach has been made to the telling of this quite different story and certainly a great deal of research time has been expended in providing and justifying the facts and reasons created by the social situations th ...more
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing. I was intrigued by the title and chose this book without knowing it was about WWII. The fact that it was about real people during a really dark time of humanity made this book an exceptional read. You cannot change the future without knowing the past mistakes made.

Most of the people born after the war (myself) will never know the true story of what went on in all of Europe. This story opened up my eyes about how every country in Europe became part of one of the worlds wor
Aug 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting story; beginning is slow & confusing

I think I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if a few things had been different.

The first, unnumbered chapter draws you in to the story and makes one of the central character feel real. However... Chapters 1 and 2 would be vastly improved with extensive editing. They jump around in time and include so much family history (more than is essential to the story), that I was left confused and not very excited about continuing.

The title was mi
Joan Buell
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How have I missed this book until now?

This book is extremely well-written and translated...often reads like poetry. ("He gave his life so as not to lose his humanity") There is a lot of background information given in the beginning about Suriname and it's colonial relationship with Holland. This becomes key to understanding the two main characters - a thirty-seven year old Dutch mother and her eighteen year old boarder from Suriname who fall in love, and birth a biracial son. Turbulent family co
I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

When I started this book I didn't know what to expect and I must say I was wary of yet another book set during WWII. On top of that, I didn't realize it was a fictionalized true story, which is honestly not my favorite genre.
But it turned out to be a very good read: the story does take place during WWII, but it's told from a different angle where the war isn't necessarily the most important part, and where the characters aren't clearly good or evil bu
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An interesting, detailed biography of relatively ordinary, but interesting people. These folks bring it--breaking taboos, dealing with family, and survival under the harshest of circumstances. I appreciate the details van der Zijl pieced together about the Dutch Resistance in WWII, the struggle with the humanity and grace that Rika and others brought to the world in the face of oppressors, collaborators and betrayal.

Easy read, though it wades deeply into what we all know is one of the toughest o
Jim Martin
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, touching Biography

I’ve hesitated giving the 5-Star review, but I realized it deserved the 5 Star in spite of my own emotions. I’ve sought out books during this period because I was born in 1942, and I wanted to understand this period in history and the countries involved.

A large part of the world, like my parents in the U.S. we’re going about their lives getting engaged, marring, and having children oblivious to what was happening. It’s hard to believe that evil can embody man the wa
Lisa Palmeri
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
A different aspect of WW II

There is always so many different stories about humanity in WWII. This story takes you from one part of the world to the other and how the war effected it. Rika and Waldemar are two people have all the odds stacked up against them. Their love and perseverance get them through very difficult times. They were selfless people in a time where self preservation is paramount. They thought nothing of helping others even if it put their lives on the line. This story gets a li
Jane Fowler
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I Had No Idea

Let me start by saying if you haven’t read this, please do. I got this as a free Kindle unlimited download, which I initially thought was “historical fiction.“ Then I began to wonder why everything was annotated? This is the story of the boy from Suriname, who travels to Holland in the early 30’s.

What follows is a tale of scandalous love at the time, a mixed marriage, a biracial child, and two people who persevere about it all. They gave their lives during the resistance and this b
Peter R. Nichols
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Outstanding in every way. The principals in the story are portrayed with deep understanding, made more special because this comes through so well in English when the story was written in the Dutch language. The story itself is an example of what so many families and relationships must have suffered during the Second Great War. And the description of life in the shadows of the prison camps is unusually well presented. This book is a treasure and should be on the school reading lists we
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a great biography set prior to and during WWII, which always seems to draw me in. I didn't realize at first that it was a biography and not a work of fiction, as it read so smoothly. Once I realized that it was actually factual, it drew me in even more. The tenacity and fortitude of both main characters, especially in such a turbulent and violent time in history, was amazing to me. Definitely do not skip the ending chapters explaining how the book came to be, as it ties everything togeth ...more
Sarah O'Brien
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I chose this book as one of my two options for the Prime "First Reads" in July and I loved it! The first half of the book had me so attached to Rika, Waldemar, Waldy, and their beautiful story and by the second half, I was praying that my suspicions as to what was going to happen next were wrong. Despite the sadness of their story, I am so grateful to have been introduced to these people and I hope their legacies live on for decades to come. May we never forget the horrors of the Holocaust so th ...more
Phyllis A Davis
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I didn't know .

This story brought me to a place where fact did come alive. I never knew that a racially mixed family was even remotely accepted outside of Paris during that time. I absolutely never knew that most of the concentration camps did not have crematoriums until the war was nearly over nor that there were so many of them. It was sad yet enlightening to see a very real personal side of this dastardly war brought forth instead of focusing on the weapons and battles .
The Book Distiller
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really interesting and heart-breaking story. My great-aunt was a part of the Dutch Resistance, so this story was of interest to me. The ONLY reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because I reserve 5 stars as "books I will re-read/the best book I've read in a while" and sometimes books in translation are not as powerful as their original writing. Some of the writing seemed a little choppy and then drawn out at times, but definitely worth reading or listening to, as this author covers an important pa ...more
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Soul Wrenching Biography

A Boy Between Worlds is one of the most moving and best written biographies I have ever read. I read many biographies because I am an avid student of history and I am ever fascinated by the lives of other people. This book brought history to life, from plantations in Surinam in the early 20th century to the horror of World War II Holland. The characters are multi-faceted, complicated people who made mistakes but also gave their lives for the betterment of others. I will n
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Annejet van der Zijl is a Dutch writer. Born in 1962, she studied mass communication at the UVA in Amsterdam and did a MA International Journalism at City University in London. She worked in magazine journalism until 2000, meanwhile publishing her first book Jagtlust, about a ramshackle villa that in the sixties was a meeting place for many artists and poets. Annejet van der Zijl lives in Amsterda ...more