Postcards from No Man's Land
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From Publishers Weekly
Sophisticated teenage readers yearning for a wider view of life may find themselves intoxicated by this Carnegie Medal¤winning novel from Chambers (The Toll Bridge; Dance on My Grave), recent recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Author Award. Jam-packed with ideas and filled with passionate characters, the story is made up of two narratives, one set in the mid-1990s and the other in 1944. The inevitable but surprising ways in which these two tales connect form the novel¡s backbone. Bookish, intense and self-conscious, Jacob Todd, 17, has left his English home to spend a few days in the Netherlands paying homage to the soldier grandfather he never knew, and visiting Geertrui, the Dutch woman who took care of his grandfather after he was wounded in battle. Shortly after meeting a beguiling stranger, a mugging leaves Jacob stranded in Amsterdam, forcing him into the initially awkward role of houseguest to Geertrui¡s forceful and freethinking grandson, Daan. The second story, set in occupied Holland at the time of the battle to liberate Oosterbeck, and narrated by Geertrui, chronicles her long-ago relationship with Jacob¡s grandfather. As each narrative unwinds, parallels and differences between the two eras emerge. Along with literature, art and love, topics dealt with here include euthanasia, adultery and bisexuality. These issues never become problems to be solved; rather, they are part of the story's texture, neither more nor less significant than the precarious joy of investigating a new city and a foreign culture. No tidy endings here - the concluding scenes present Jacob with a complicated moral dilemma that remains unresolved. The implied challenges of the future make the final pages all the more satisfying: it's clear that Jacob can not only cope with ambiguity but can employ it to enlarge himself on the voyage of self-discovery he has so auspiciously begun. Ages 14-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From School Library Journal
Grade 10-Up This book received international acclaim after its 1999 publication in Europe. Older teens on this side of the Atlantic now have a chance to read the two complex and challenging narratives intertwined in this beautifully written novel. When 17-year-old Jacob travels solo from England as his grandmother's representative at a ceremony in the Netherlands commemorating the World War II Battle of Arnhem, he is transformed. Jacob is intrigued and excited by new ideas engendered by initially bewildering experiences: the strangely disturbing Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, new acquaintances who cross gender lines, and, most of all, the imminent assisted death of the elderly lady who was his grandfather's wartime nurse and has kept in contact with his family. This frail Dutchwoman, the second narrator, has her own startling tale to tell, recalling in detail her short but passionate relationship with another Jacob long ago, when the whole world seemed to be burning and when serious, irrevocable choices were made in haste. The protagonists in these coming-of-age stories face real-world decisions involving love, sexuality, and friendship, linking the teenagers across time and generations, and leading to a conclusion as convincing as it is absorbing and thought-provoking. -Starr E. Smith, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
There are a lot of adult themes covered in this book, so it's best if you have a mature teenager reading it, and are prepared to discuss it afterwards. Some of those topics include: homosexuality, bisexuality, euthanasia, war, and marital fidelity.
This book is well written, so chances are that you won't get lost, and the different writing styles make it difficult to get bored. As soon as something gets exciting in one part of the story, it switches off, making you want more.
Belongs on the bookshelf of the mature adolescent, and the discerning adult reader of adolescent fiction.
About the narration, it's really beautifully built: In a chapter we are told the adventures of Jacob Todd, teenager, through the city of Amsterdam, and in the following we get to know about Jacob Todd, his homonymous grandfather and the events he was involved in in the Netherlands as soldier during the II World War, then back to the young grandchild, and then again with the soldier: A continuous change of scene that more and more induces you to keep reading and to find out the link between the two characters.
I think the power of the book is due to the frankness and realism it uses to describe the story and to approach the very important thematics in it.
They are euthanasy and mainly love. Love is the centre of the book I think, and by love the book means a lot of things: the love between a grandmother and a grandchild, the love beetween a grandchild and his dead grandfather, the love between a girl and a boy. The book deals with this one with no emphasizing, just with a sentiment of naturalness and frank discovery I have seen nowhere else.
I was somehow shocked by this thought-provoking book, and I definitely suggest it to all the people (teens and adults) who are interested in a mature reading.
On top of all of this, the story was mediocre. All the homosexual references made my stomach turn. Of course the author had to put that he is married on the jacket flap to let everyone know that he is not gay. This guy sounds real confident about his sexuality.
I'm going to jump off a cliff because this book makes it seem normal to have sexual relations with men, women, sheep, and insects. Free love! That's the ticket! Who needs God! Eat, drink and fornicate!
Most recent customer reviews
I must begin by saying that I really like the book. The storyline was captivating and I felt as if I got to know the characters and make a connection with them. Read morePublished on June 25 2003 by Tonya B. Williams
Books dealing with the Holocaust, I believe, can be shockingly upfront, and wrenching...Postcards from No Man's Land was a terrible leafing... Read morePublished on May 3 2003 by Goneril
The story is all encompassing with enough of "literary gaps" to draw the young adult reader in: heart, body and soul. Read morePublished on April 18 2003 by Karen L. Simonetti
Chambersï¿½ story is an accurate piece of historical fiction; however, it is obvious after just the first chapter that Chambers does not intend for his novel to be primarily... Read morePublished on March 13 2003 by Megan Piersma
Chambers' story is an accurate piece of historical fiction; however, it is obvious after just the first chapter that Chambers does not intend for his novel to be primarily labeled... Read morePublished on March 13 2003 by Megan Piersma
A book of suspense and ideas from a writer who recognizes the bravery of those who seek new experiences, whether of the mind, heart, or body.Published on Jan. 28 2003
If you like books with loads of boring, pseudo-intellectual dialogue and an obnoxious protagonist, then this is the book for you. Read morePublished on Jan. 2 2003
This is a book you will not forget. The way in which the book weaves back in forth in time (between WWII and the present) is well-crafted.. Read morePublished on June 28 2002
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