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Showing 1-5 of 5 reviews(4 star)show all reviews
on January 27, 2004
This book is very different. There are two main characters, one a 17 year old English boy in the 90's and a Dutch family friend who is dying in his time, but knew his grandfather during WWII. The book is set in Amsterdam, so it incorporates a lot of Dutch, which is frustrating at first, but then it becomes second nature to find the translation of the phrase, or to remember it from earlier, and this adds to the sense of place.
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.
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on June 25, 2003
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. I am not going to review the content of the book in summary form, there's enough reviews on here for that, instead, I am going to raise the question, is this youth fiction? I agree, the story, one half of it anyway, is dealing with a seventeen year old "coming of age". However, just because one of the main characters is 17, I do not believe makes a book "youth fiction". The format was complex, each chapter alternating from 1944 to the present. I found myself, as a 26 year old who thinks of herself as a pretty avid reader, having trouble with the format. I think the story itself was great, but I question how many young readers would actually make it to the end of the book? The topics; sexual orientation, euthanasia, eternal love, death, independence, are all topics that, individually, appeal to teens. Postcards, however, mixes all of these topics into a difficult format between two simultaneously told stories. I think it is just out of the teen interest/readability level. As an educator, I believe this book would be much more appealing to adults than teens. I would not have made such a conclusion prior to reading the book, but once I did, I felt Chambers missed his intended audience.
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on March 13, 2003
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 as historical fiction. Rather, he intends his novel to be regarded as a coming-of-age story told in both the present and the past. As Chambers develops the narratives of Jacob and Geertrui, he shows that feelings of confusion, excitement and fear are common to all teenagers, regardless of their historical setting, as they struggle to come into their own.
Jacob and Geertrui are real, three-dimensional characters. They become persons with whom the reader can easily identify because Chambers allows the reader to hear their thoughts and observe how their emotions influence their decisions and often times change their rational or at the very least broaden their perspectives. I was thankful that Chambers explores the characters� emotions so in depth, because I believe that emotions are often more powerful than we realize and they are especially overwhelming during the teenage years. It is important that the emotions of Jacob and Geertrui are particularly potent for they find themselves in stressful situations.
The mature nature of Chambers� novel is shown in the first chapter. A mysterious, sexy stranger comes on to Jacob in an outdoor café. Jacob feels a rush of excitement because he�s not used to attracting girls, but his excitement changes to bewilderment when Jacob realizes that he has struck a boy�s fancy, not a girl�s. I was just as surprised as Jacob to discover that Ton was in fact a boy, and I felt Chambers� description of this discovery was perhaps too vivid. (Jacob realizes Ton�s true identity when Ton presses Jacob�s hand to his crotch and Jacob feels his penis.)
Sexuality and sexual discovery are main themes in Postcards from No Man�s Land. Chambers does not condone a particular lifestyle in his exploration of these themes, and I was thankful that he left the interpretation of Jacob�s and Geertrui�s sexual experiences up to the reader. However, I found it troubling that Chambers assumes Jacob is no longer a virgin because he is seventeen and that Geertrui and Jacob�s grandfather can not restrain themselves from being sexually intimate.
Although Chambers does not seem to entertain abstinence as an option for teenagers, he does show that Jacob�s and Geertrui�s sexual choices, in particular, have consequences. Geertrui becomes pregnant with the child of a man who is never her husband, but the husband of someone else. Her pregnancy makes it necessary for her to marry another man who she does not love and to keep the true identity of her child�s father a secret until her husband dies. Chambers accurately shows that Geertrui�s relationship with Jacob�s grandfather brings both pleasure and pain, but thankfully he illustrates how Geertrui�s pain was tempered by the grace and forgiveness of others.
Overall, I was pleased with Chambers� novel. He writes with integrity and allows his reader to explore difficult issues without the fear of being judged. I would recommend this book to teenagers ages sixteen and above.
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on March 13, 2003
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 as historical fiction. Rather, he intends his novel to be regarded as a coming-of-age story told in both the present and the past. As Chambers develops the narratives of Jacob and Geertrui, he shows that feelings of confusion, excitement and fear are common to all teenagers, regardless of their historical setting, as they struggle to come into their own.
Jacob and Geertrui are real, three-dimensional characters. They become persons with whom the reader can easily identify because Chambers allows the reader to hear their thoughts and observe how their emotions influence their decisions and often times change their rational or at the very least broaden their perspectives. I was thankful that Chambers explores the characters' emotions so in depth, because I believe that emotions are often more powerful than we realize and they are especially overwhelming during the teenage years. It is important that the emotions of Jacob and Geertrui are particularly potent for they find themselves in stressful situations.
The mature nature of Chambers' novel is shown in the first chapter. A mysterious, sexy stranger comes on to Jacob in an outdoor café. Jacob feels a rush of excitement because he's not used to attracting girls, but his excitement changes to bewilderment when Jacob realizes that he has struck a boy's fancy, not a girl's. I was just as surprised as Jacob to discover that Ton was in fact a boy, and I felt Chambers' description of this discovery was perhaps too vivid. (Jacob realizes Ton's true identity when Ton presses Jacob's hand to his crotch and Jacob feels his penis.)
Sexuality and sexual discovery are main themes in Postcards from No Man's Land. Chambers does not condone a particular lifestyle in his exploration of these themes, and I was thankful that he left the interpretation of Jacob's and Geertrui's sexual experiences up to the reader. However, I found it troubling that Chambers assumes Jacob is no longer a virgin because he is seventeen and that Geertrui and Jacob's grandfather can not restrain themselves from being sexually intimate.
Although Chambers does not seem to entertain abstinence as an option for teenagers, he does show that Jacob's and Geertrui's sexual choices, in particular, have consequences. Geertrui becomes pregnant with the child of a man who is never her husband, but the husband of someone else. Her pregnancy makes it necessary for her to marry another man who she does not love and to keep the true identity of her child's father a secret until her husband dies. Chambers accurately shows that Geertrui's relationship with Jacob's grandfather brings both pleasure and pain, but thankfully he illustrates how Geertrui's pain was tempered by the grace and forgiveness of others.
Overall, I was pleased with Chambers' novel. He writes with integrity and allows his reader to explore difficult issues without the fear of being judged. I would recommend this book to teenagers ages sixteen and above.
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on June 28, 2002
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..this is a very difficult thing to accomplish, and only a few writers, such as Connie Willis, have done it well.
The principal characters are well developed; the secondary ones (particularly the hero's new girlfriend) much less so.
A bit of political correctness detracts from the '40s scenes. Would an anti-Nazi Dutchwoman, on the run from the Germans, really express negative feelings about the gun her companion carries? Would she really say "Must you take that," and think snide thoughts about "Men and their deadly toys." More likely, she would ask if there wasn't another gun for her. This seems like an importation of '90s feminism into a place where it doesn't belong.
Overall, well worth reading.
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