Rising From the Shadow of the Sun
By Ronny Herman de Jong
Reviewed by Angie Mangino
Rating: 4 stars
World War II has been the subject of many books, but here the author tells a story of that war of which many are unaware. Did you know of the concentration camps of women and children on Java?
In “Rising from the Shadow of the Sun,” de Jong writes “a story of love, survival, and joy.”
Part one, “In the Shadow of the Sun,” is a sharing of the diary and memoirs of Jeannette Herman-Louwerse, her mother. Here readers witness life from Netty’s perspective of her life. We see her with husband Fokko in Soerabaja, on the island of Java, previously called the Dutch East Indies, a colony of Holland. We learn of the birth of their two daughters, Ronny and Paula there, and the way life changed when Fokko calls from work on March 1, 1942, telling her he is “assigned to a group of men who had to evacuate to Tjilatjap, a harbor town on the south coast.” Netty is to stay on Java with the girls, never anticipating her time with her two daughters at the Japanese concentration camps for civilians in Southeast Asia.
Part two, “Rising from the Shadow of the Sun,” is the autobiography and memoir of Ronny Herman de Jong. Here readers witness life from Ronny’s perspective, her childhood, her marriage, her pilgrimage back to Java, and their life now in America.
Readers will see the unbelievable, feel the fear and unbearable conditions, yet continue to hold on to hope as Netty did to survive with her daughters. Then Ronny will share her “life on a roller coaster.”
A glossary helps define Dutch, Hawaiian, and Japanese words along with Indonesian/Indo words, expressions, and explanations of terminology.
Next follows a list of Japanese Camps in the Dutch East Indies where “from March, 1942 to August, 1945, about 100,000 Dutch civilians were detained by the Japanese in internment camps.”
In conclusion, to assist in this book’s inclusion into any academic curriculum, or just as general interest to book groups or individual readers, is a list of Reading Group Questions to delve more deeply into the interactions in this historic and richly human book of the war, its impact, and its aftermath.