Java Island, 1941
Six-year-old Rita Vischer cowers in her family’s dug-out bomb shelter, listening to the sirens and waiting for a bomb to fall. Her charmed life on Java—living with other Dutch families—had always been peaceful, but when Holland declares war on Japan and the Japanese army invades Indonesia, Rita’s family is forced to relocate to a POW camp, and Rita must help care for her little brother, Georgie.
Mary Vischer is three months pregnant when she enters the Tjident women’s camp with thousands of other women and children. Her husband, George, is somewhere on the Java Sea with the Dutch Navy, so she must care alone for her young children, Rita and Georgie, and her frail mother. The brutal conditions of the overcrowded camp make starvation, malaria, and dysentery a grim reality. Mary must do everything she can to keep her family alive.
George Vischer survives the bombing of his minesweeper but feels little hope floating on a small dinghy in the Java Sea. Reaching the northern tip of the Thousand Island would be a miracle. Focusing on the love of his life, Mary, and his two children, he battles against the sea and merciless sun. He’ll do whatever it takes to close the divide between him and his family, even if it means risking being captured by the Japanese.
Under the Java Moon highlights a little-known part of WWII history and the impact of war on Indonesia, its people, and the more than 100,000 Dutch men, women, and children who were funneled into prison camps and faced with the ultimate fight for survival.
First, book cover love!! The cover on this book may just be one of my favorites this year so far. It's gorgeous and I absolutely love it. The picture is pretty but the cover in real life is even more beautiful.
Next, the story. Wow. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and this book is exactly the reason why. I love learning about events in history told like a story filled with emotion and personal connections. Author Heather B. Moore knows just how to weave a story that fills my mind with vivid pictures and heartfelt emotion.
I listened to a podcast (All In, April 5th) with Maria Vischer Elliott (Rita) before I read this book. I was interested because I knew I was going to be reading this book and what a treat to hear her voice and tell bits of this story in her own words. It really gave me an emotional base and interest before I even started reading.
War is horrible. What war does to people is horrible. I wish it never had to happen. But stories like this are a testament to how resilient people can be, especially when driven by love and hope. I hadn't even heard the story of the people of the Dutch East Indies during WWII so this was all new to me. My heart is both saddened and grateful. The Vischer family is a real family, whose lives were torn apart by war. They are one of so many. I'm so glad for authors who tell stories like this so we can honor them and remember.
Content: war time elements of peril, abuse and violence.
- I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.