Friday, March 9, 2007

BOOK: On the Water by H.M. van den Brink

Quiet little story, set in Holland at the end of the World War II about a young boy, Anton, and his maturing and learning about himself. He is remembering a summer from five years previous, a summer where he and another boy, David, were rowing on the river and forming a friendship. Anton is from a lower class family, afraid to dream, to be happy, to dare to be. His partner is a more affluent, assured Jewish David has everything, and of course in 1939 Holland, will lose everything. But the story is very quiet, very descriptive and, with history that the reader knows as the backdrop, only focuses on that summer as they work together and become a great team of rowers.
It wasn't the easiest story to get into, and I found it hard to start. However, by the end, and it was only 130 pages, I was engrossed in the final race for the championship, as Anton is waiting for the liberation in 1945. His naivite and unawareness of much beyond his own house makes it easy to see how some things could have happened in Europe during the war.
The point of this challenge was to expose myself to different cultures and stories. I'm glad I read this, although it was a little arty, and it is hard to know how much the translation affects the mood and story.