Hunger Winter by Rob Currie

Hunger Winter by Rob Currie
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Genre: Historical, Middle Grade, Inspirational
Length: Full (272 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Rose

Thirteen-year-old Dirk has been the man of the house since his papa disappeared while fighting against the Nazis with the Dutch Resistance. When the Gestapo arrests Dirk’s older sister, who is also a Resistance fighter, Dirk fears that he and his little sister, Anna, might be next.

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This is an exciting look back at a time in history when life was hard for everyone–the period of the Hongerwinter, the Dutch famine of 1944-1945 during the time the Netherlands was occupied by Germany, at the end of World War II. I have to admit I did not know much about this part of the war before reading this book, and it has spurred my interest to learn more.

Told from the points of view of Dirk, a 13-year-old boy who is trying to find his way to safety with his young sister, Anna, and his older sister Els, who is part of the Resistance and has been captured by the Gestapo, Hunter Winter, shares a  snapshot of the dangers and difficulties that people were facing during this time. It’s written simply so a child could understand, but is full of suspense at the same time and kept this grandmother on the edge of her seat wondering how these children would be able to survive…. to the extent that I finished the book in one sitting.

There is a Christian message throughout the book; not heavy-handed but enough to show where this family gets its strength. One of the many pieces of advice Dirk’s father had shared with him was “Keep your hopes up and your prayers strong,” and it definitely helped him as he struggled to keep his sister safe.

I highly recommend this book to families with children 10 and up. It might be a little much for younger kids, but it’s important that our children learn about times like these so hopefully they’ll know enough to keep history from repeating itself. There are some violent moments, but this was a violent time, so to leave those elements out would have been doing the readers a disservice.

The author has obviously put a lot of research into this time period and, until I reached the end of the book and discovered the characters were fictional, I would have sworn the author was telling a story torn out of his own family’s history–the characters were that real to me. Good job, sir.