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The Way of a Boy: A Memoir of Java
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The Way of a Boy: A Memoir of Java

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  117 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Chronicles the years Ernest Hillen spent as a little boy in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp on Java. He and his family lived in Java on a tea plantation before the war and they were interned by the Japanese and transported to a series of camps.
Paperback, 200 pages
Published 1994 by Penguin Books (first published 1993)
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3.89  · 
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 ·  117 ratings  ·  18 reviews

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Sep 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This remains, years later, one of the best books I have read. Also with the best quote, Memories, are all we own.
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank goodness for library book sales. I knew nothing of this book, but I saw it on the table and it looked worth a try, so I picked it up. And it’s very, very good. He tells the story of his years in Japanese prison camps in Indonesia as a young boy. What most impressed me was the voice—I could hear the voice of a child, simultaneously innocent and old, aged too early by brutal experience. He is never sentimental, though deeply emotional, and he never strives for effect; he tells us what he saw ...more
Susan Chow-Dukhan
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
A memoir of a Dutch boy's three and a half years at three Japanese run internment camps for Europeans in Java during Word War II.
As Ernest Hillen entered the first camp when he was seven years old, most of the chapters focused on wandering around with nothing to do and nothing to play with. With the exception of having to stand for long periods of time in the heat, and being hungry, life in the camp seemes to consists mostly of boredom. His viewpoint that the Japanese left the children alone an
Cathy Van
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Written from the memories of a young boy, this book tells the story of a family imprisoned by the Japanese when they invaded Java during WWII. Surprisingly, it is a memoir of life in Java, not a horror story, but a tale of survival. Ernest Hillen's ability to include the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood, and temper the brutality with the triumph of the human spirit make this a strong story.
Akash Raman
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was the first ever serious book that I had read.

The book transports the reader to the Java as seen from the eyes of a young boy. The initial lazy afternoon play times and weekend routines in colonial java collapse into the hardship of internment camps under Japanese occupation. The book gives us a unique perspective of life under occupation from the eyes of a lively young child who is forced to grow up fast and care for people around him.
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A bitter/sweet memoir of life for a 8 year old Dutch boy incarcerated in war camps by the Japanese in Java. I can't imagine how difficult this must have been to write as an adult and I find those who criticize it heartless.
Sarah Sils
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An impressive, unsentimental retelling of a boy’s life during a challenging time in history. He was a Dutch boy living in Indonesia during World War 2. These are things that cannot be forgotten.
I simply did not find this book interesting. It sounds like good fodder for a memoir: an innocent family locked up in an internment camp because of a faraway war. But it was dull, dull, dull. I don't know how much of it was the author's writing and how much of it was just the situation. Because, when you think about it, life in an internment camp probably would be mostly squalid and boring rather than exciting and scary. I also wish more historical context had been provided to the story. I don't ...more
Mar 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
I had a special interest in reading this 200 page memoir as one of my patients where I worked was herself, a prisoner of war during the 1940's. She was held captive in some of the same camps mentioned in this memoir.

Ernest Hillen has written a moving and sobering tale of his experiences as a prisoner of war in a Japanese war camp. Hillen and his family endured their fate with clamness and without hysteria.

The memoir is filled with courage, stamina, friendship, love and even some humour as he tel
May 09, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: farawayplaces
It took me a bit to get into this memoir of a young Dutch boy growing up in a work-camp in Java during World War II. But once I did, I loved the simple description of his memories. I am often irritated by memoirs of childhood that seem to exaggerate or analyze childhood experiences so that the voice of the child and the voice of the adult author are all mixed up. But this book does a great job of taking the reader into a world where toy soldiers and scavenged bits of food were precious commoditi ...more
Pretty good childhood account of family incarceration in Java by the Japanese soldiers of WW II. Tells about good and evil and various personalities and some philosophy. Not bad at all. Somewhat like "Empire of the Sun."
Christopher James
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Quite simply, this is one of the better memoirs that I've had the pleasure of reading. Hillen speaks from the perspective of his childhood self with no lack of complexity and sophistication. It reads beautifully throughout, and sheds some important light on my travels to Indonesia.
Shonna Froebel
May 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This memoir of a young boy caught up by the events of World War II, and ending up in a Japanese prison camp was moving and full of imagery.
Aug 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this book down. It is one of the best books I have ever read and I read it in less than a day.
Jen Roe
Aug 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book
Sep 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable. I read it while in Bandung and was pleased to be able be seeing some some of the places he was writing about while reading the book.
Sid Klooster
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very informative. After years of hearing stories from my Mother-in-law who lived through the Japanese war camps it was informative to read another's account.
Brian Blondahl
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Mar 29, 2013
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Aug 26, 2014
Tasha Grounds
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Wesley Clarke
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Sep 14, 2009
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Jul 05, 2014
Dorothy Van
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Mar 28, 2014
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Sean Talbot
rated it it was ok
Dec 30, 2017
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Oct 22, 2012
Pete van Genne
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Nov 18, 2013
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My favourite quote from the book 1 3 Jul 12, 2013 06:12AM