Ingrid Coles. Wild Side Publishing, $35.00* (p270)
ISBN  978-0-473-42890-7

The author was only three-months-old in 1942 when she and her Dutch parents and four older siblings were rounded up by the Japanese in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia today) and incarcerated in prison-of-war camps.

In her memoir, Ingrid gives a harrowing account of their three years of brutality, starvation, disease and appalling living conditions at the hands of their cruel captors.

Her father, aged 43, died in a prison camp and her disabled younger brother died en route to Holland when the rest of the family was evacuated during the Indonesian War of Independence.

Back in the Netherlands, the family sought to pick up the pieces of their lives in a different and often unwelcoming environment. They all suffered physically and psychologically from the hardships and the horrors of the war, especially the mother, and this added a huge burden of care on her children.

Ingrid’s honest but gruelling book gives valuable insights into the enormous disruption and suffering war causes on the lives of innocent people. But it also shows their courage and fortitude to battle on and overcome the deprivation and traumas of the past.

In 1958, aged 16 and orphaned, Ingrid emigrated to New Zealand alone to train as a nurse. There she made a new life for herself. With a strong faith in God she testifies: “It seems hard to do, but for our own good and with God’s help, we can rid ourselves of hate and forgive those who treated us badly.” 

It’s a captivating and unforgettable story and I recommend it to all readers.

Review: Julia Martin, NZ Christian Writers librarian

*The paperback is $35.00 from New Zealand Christian bookstores and $39.95 from secular bookstores. The e-book version is obtainable from Amazon.