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The Boy Between Worlds

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  8,425 ratings  ·  531 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 (first published 2004)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,425 ratings  ·  531 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
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
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends – John 15:13 (from Rika's prayer card, at her requiem)

World War 2 novels have a leg up: danger, heroes, evil, but a reminder of hope. The Boy Between Two Worlds has another leg up, as its story is true: two people: Rika and Waldemar fall in love against all odds. Rika was a spirited Dutch woman and mother of four, separated from her husband; Waldemar, almost half her age, was an émigré from Suriname. Rika white, Wal
Oct 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, bio-memoir
Is a personal history the best way to learn about the past? Annejet van der Zijl thinks so. She is willing to pick up this task by narrating the life of a stubborn Dutch women, her second man from Suriname and their son between 1900 and 1945. How should you write a personal account for people who no longer live?

Annejet did a lot of research for sure. She uses letters and interviews she made with relatives and friends of the three main characters of this biography. Maybe because she worked so lon
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
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
Lance Greenfield
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
The first third of this book is about the background and is almost a history lesson. The pace is extremely slow and somewhat boring. Once I was past this, however, I was drawn in and captured throughout the rest of the book so it is worth your perseverance.

This book is truly an emotional roller-coaster. There were parts of the book that filled me with joy, parts that inspired me and made me feel proud of the achievements of the main characters and parts that made me sob as I read about the crue
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
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars
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,
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Germany, Suriname, Holland.
During WW two.
An interesting starting point to a story.
And yet, I did not enjoy it.
Memoirs are suspect to me, biographies even more so.
This author describes detailed interactions between true characters with the precision of a video camera, but accessed through third and fourth parties' recollections.
And since we sense; how she holds the butter, how the lovers embraced, the thoughts of a black male in the Netherlands; I find her, this author’s account, suspect.
And that
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 mislea
May 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Despite the title mentioning “a biography”, the story seems so unreal sometimes. Beautifully written and documented, the characters are so alive. I liked that the historical events were mentioned as a context, very succinct and the focus was on the story of the two ordinary (real) people. I fell in love with Rika, the strong woman around the book is constructed. Her energy and love are endless...

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

A poignant and moving true story involving two people connected through colonization. Annetej van der Zijil, a Dutch bestseller, provides a beautiful narrative, describing the bonded love between two contrasting figures-Waldemer, from tropical Suriname, who heads to the motherland (Netherlands) for promises of a better education, while Rika, a much older woman, refuses to accept the stereotypical Dutch mother role, and eventually heads to The Hague in a somewhat rebellious manner. It’s her
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
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This Book was INCREDIBLE. I learned so much about a World I had not explored yet, The Dutch East Indies, Holland, the time between the First and Second World War. The story is SO MOVING, well reseached and Beautiful. The writing is Beautiful. I recommend to EVERYONE. A Masterpiece that spans Decades! A haunting and beautiful story of Love, Seperation, Concentration Camps and the terrible invasion of Nazis into Holland. Of Courage and Bravery beyond measure and a forbidden love that took on even ...more
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.
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredibly well written story. It's the true story of Rika, a Dutch woman who was estranged from her husband, and Waldermar, a immigrant from Surinamese. Rika was a bit more of a free sprit than her husband and when the couple became estranged, there were limited ways to earn income in the 1920s for a woman like her, so she took boarders like Waldermar. The two fell in love, had a child, and had a good life together until WWII started and the Nazis began occupying the Netherlands.

Paul Manytravels
In truth, I did not finish this book The plot sounded interesting but the writing failed to give the characters life. The 80 page I read were more of a slog than a ‘read’. The author described and developed the characters in the same way a police report would describe a crime scene and the episodes or events of the story were more a chronology than a plot. It took me two months of trying to read it before I gave up. In the meantime, I did not read things I might have enjoyed.
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Wow.” There’s not much more I can say than that. A story of many, with a focus on an unlikely family of three, it is gripping, tragic, hopeful, and full of love. I’m glad it’s required reading for Dutch high schoolers, it should be for everyone. Rika and Waldemar and their little Waldy exist beyond time that’s past to share how, exactly, hope itself lives.
Suzanne Szczepanski
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
As others have mentioned, the beginning was a bit tough to get through. Stick with it. It is worth it. A part of WWII I knew little about. A very unusual story, I found myself looking things up because had no knowledge of them. Would I have been as strong and resilient? I dare to how so.
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.

Janice M Dodson
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was very interesting and and different account of history of second world war era.
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
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a true story. It seems I have been reading books from WWII, getting different angles to history. But all of these books make me realize the horror of the Holocaust, and how it not only annihilated Jews but affected so many people.
It was enlightening to read about Suriname and the Netherlands.
Jo ReadsRomance
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
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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

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