Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
I was unprepared for how good this book is. It put me in acute remembrance of humanity’s, and even my own, need for mercy.
I think it’s fair to point out early that this World War II novel’s description/blurb/back cover copy misrepresents what’s actually in the book to a significant degree. (The Goodreads description differs from the official blurb.) Yes, the love between Jeremiah and Laura is important, but their relationship is not what’s at the forefront of much (maybe even most) of what happens in the book. Also, while the blurb paints a picture of how the two of them, apparently together, “reach for God’s light and grace, shining through His people,” I, even in retrospect, have a little trouble placing where that picture is supposed to fit in this story.
Fortunately, as one who isn’t a big fan of book blurbs in general, I take them with a grain of salt (whenever I do actually read them.)
Thief of Glory is heartrending, even raw at points, and superbly written. I’d never read a WWII novel that takes place on this side of the war, in the Dutch East Indies, or Indonesia. Jeremiah’s boyhood rage and cunning doesn’t lead to nice-and-tidy ends, just as war, growing up, and life itself aren’t nice and tidy. Indeed, there is life here, and death, and darkness, and light; a good story entails both sides, and as Jeremiah intimates, “To tell our story makes us human, and to be human is to tell our story.”
What I find the most redemptive about this story is its illustration of looking back into the bad and being able to identify the good that came through it, identifying love and hope and the meaning they give to life. The final word isn’t granted to injustice, terror, devastation, or even resulting grief and rage when any human being, whether during or in the aftermath of tragedy, can honestly say, “I found the strength and courage to fold my hands together and bow my head and finally ask His mercy.”