The Cut Out Girl: A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found

Bart van Es. Penguin Press, $28 (294p) ISBN 978-0-7352-2224-3
Literature professor van Es (Shakespeare in Company) thoughtfully examines a dark chapter in the Netherlands’ past in this look at the life of Lien de Jong, a Dutch Jew who was hidden from the Nazis by van Es’s grandparents before a rift developed between Lien and them. Van Es’s account is based both on interviews with Lien, whom he met when she was in her 80s, and his reconstruction of events. A year after Holland was invaded by Germany in 1940, Jews were barred from using public places such as parks, libraries, and museums. In 1942, when Jews were required to wear a yellow star to identify themselves, and with the then-eight-year-old Lien the target of other children’s increasing anti-Semitism, her mother took the desperate step of putting her into an underground network of foster families, who placed her with van Es’s grandparents, Jan and Henk. Van Es makes Lien’s childhood palpable by including photographs, excerpts from a poetry scrapbook she’d kept, and the poignant letter her mother wrote to her protectors (“Most Honored Sir and Madam, Although you are unknown to me, I imagine you for myself as a man and a woman who will, as a father and mother, care for my only child”). He also uncovers long-buried secrets relating to the rift between Lien and his grandparents, which was still unhealed when Jan and Henk died. This is a nuanced, moving, and unusual “hidden child” account. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/11/2018
Release date: 08/14/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-7352-2226-7
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-525-63461-4
Show other formats
Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
Discover what to read next