Author:Ronny Herman de Jong

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

ISBN-10: 1519299583: ISBN-13: 978-1519299581

Ronny Herman de Jong's Rising from the Shadow of the Sun: A Story of Love, Survival and Joy blends historical fact with a vivid personal journal that was given to the author in 1985 by her mother, Jeannette (Netty) Louwerse after her grandparents had died in 1985. The narrative is set during World War II in Java, which at the time was a part of the Dutch East Indies.

In 1942 the Japanese Army had conquered Java and set up internment camps imprisoning men, women and children forcing them to endure inhuman treatment where food and medication were withheld. Many of the inhabitants of these camps were also tortured, raped and beheaded. One family that managed to survive was the author, her mother, father and sister.

The journal unfolds when Java was under colonial rule and then proceeds to describe in an honest and deeply moving account what life was earlier to the war. We learn that Ronny's mother, Netty and her father, Fokko met in Holland in 1933. They eventually moved to Soerabaja on the island of Java where their two daughters Ronny and Paula were born.

Netty had kept a secret journal describing how her daughters grew up hoping that one day when the war was over her parents back in war-torn Holland would be able to read her writings. At the time, Fokko was a pilot in the Dutch Naval Air Force.

The journal immerses the reader in describing the daily life in Soerabaja during war-time, the bombardments and the subsequent horrendous conditions. Netty also chronicles her husband Fokko's terrifying experiences at the naval base where he was stationed and his sudden disappearance after the Japanese invasion. As she exclaims: “Fokko has gone. I don't know anything about him. I don't even know where he is, whether he is still alive or whether we'll ever see each other again. You can understand how I feel. This is the worst thing that could happen to me, because as long as you have each other you can endure anything.” Shortly thereafter Netty finds out that Fokko was assigned to a group of men who had to evacuate to Tjilatjap, a harbor town on the south coast. Fokko returns to say good-bye to Netty and his daughters before taking a train to Tjilatjap, on the south coast of Java. From there, he would leave on board a ship with an unknown destination.

Netty Includes in the journal Fokko's memoirs who was "on the outside" during most of the war while being separated from his family. We learn of his near death experience and his landing in a hospital where Netty was permitted to visit him. Eventually discharged from the hospital, Fokko finds refuge on a rubber and tea plantation, deep in the interior of Ceylon, owned by the parents of one of the British volunteer nurses. He eventually is put to work in China Bay near Trincomalee, in the far northeastern part of Ceylon.

In the next section of the journal Netty recounts in wrenching detail her displacement with her daughters to Japanese internment camps where they remained for three and half years. The guards were often very violent, something the detainees were not used to and this type of harsh action had a very intimidating effect. Daily rations of food gradually dropped far required beneath the least in terms of quantity and quality. A combination of lack of food, poor hygiene and heavy work often left the internees susceptible to contagious diseases. Dysentery, jaundice, malaria, typhoid fever, pneumonia, other respiratory diseases and cholera were very common.

The final chapters concern the liberating of the camps, the reuniting of Netty and her daughters with Fokko, and their eventual emigration to the USA.

Rising from the Shadow of the Sun stands as a memorable memoir wherein the author captures the evilness of war with graphic ferocity. It illustrates how, in spite of the most harsh conditions, degrading treatment and suffering, hope and the will to survive as well as the human spirit still shine through.

The mixture of retrospective musings and the use of vivid language as the journal unfolds before the reader's eyes makes for a powerful read. And although at times heartbreaking, Netty's voice effectively takes her readers on a journey that connects her emotions to that of her readers provoking them to continue reading and to wonder about the narrator well after the book is put to rest. In the end we are left with a story that reminds us that sometimes remembering is the bravest and most painful act of all.

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