Book Nineteen

My goal for several years has been to read 50 books in one calendar year – 52 weeks – but I have always fallen off the rails around 25 books. This year, I’m twice as determined. I will be posting short reviews of each book with my thoughts and any recommendations I received for the book as well as a link to purchase the book from Amazon, (though I recommend checking your local library first). If you have questions, leave a comment! If you want to follow my journey, find me on Goodreads.

I’ve had at least three layovers in Amsterdam in my ten years of international travel. Each time someone mentioned Corrie Ten Boom and I nodded like I knew what they were saying, assuming she was just another person Baptists (sorry) liked to talk about when explaining missions and ministry.

I was wrong. I completely admit that.

An acquaintance on Facebook was offering several books for trade, The Hiding Place being one of them, so I traded my Stephen King novel (book eleven of this year) for this one. I got the better deal, to be sure.

Contrary to my poor preconceived notions, Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch woman who aided in the safety and housing of hundreds of people targeted by Nazis during WWII. To begin with, I love studying the events and culture of the early 20th century – LOVE. It is by far my favorite time period, full of transitions and changes, challenges and growth. I’m not sure how I mislabeled this memoir for so long. Regardless, it is now easily one of my favorites.

Ten Boom recounts her childhood and the years before her involvement in the second World War, describing her father’s watch business and their family home in delicate detail. The backstory in and of itself is moving. Ten Boom recounts the looming tension concerning the frightening conditions in Germany spreading to the Netherlands in such a convincing way I felt like I was there with her in that tiny home in Haarlem. The zeal and ease in which this family chose to serve these marginalized groups was shocking to me. Then, after being captured, they stated they would do it again if released. What an incredible testimony.

The hardest parts to read were the moments Corrie spent in isolation at their first prison, then as her sister’s health deteriorated. I wept when she died and wept at the liberation of their camp – Ravensbruck. Really, I wept when I turned the page to see Ravensbruck at the top of the next chapter in big bold letters. In my studies I have read several accounts from Ravensbruck, the women’s concentration camp in north Germany outside Berlin. They have been riveting and sickening all at once. Sarah Helm’s biography on Ravensbruck is on my list to read, but at a harrowing 700+ pages I haven’t the courage to tackle it yet. Nonetheless, hope persisted. Corrie Ten Boom and her sister exhibit an unnatural hope and faith during their time in captivity that can only be explained in a supernatural way. I was challenged and moved by the horrors this family experienced during the war and the extravagant forgiveness displayed by Corrie Ten Boom after the war. What incredible examples of Christ-followers they are.

But it was one of these mornings while we were waiting, shivering, in the corridor, that yet another page in the Bible leapt into life for me.

He hung naked on the cross.

I had not known—I had not thought… The paintings, the carved crucifixes showed at the least a scrap of cloth. But this, I suddenly knew, was the respect and reverence of the artist. But oh—at the time itself, on that other Friday morning—there had been no reverence. No more than I saw in the faces around us now.

I leaned toward Betsie, ahead of me in line. Her shoulder blades stood out sharp and thin beneath her blue-mottled skin.

“Betsie, they took HIS clothes, too.”

Ahead of me I heard a little gasp. “Oh, Corrie. And I never thanked Him…”


Goodreads rating: 4.42/5

My rating: 5/5 stars

Days read: March 27-30

Recommend: Yes