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Book review: Dutch sisters join resistance in inspiring novel



In the years before the Second World War, the Netherlands was an uneasy and uncertain country. Hoping to embrace a policy of neutrality should hostilities erupt, the Dutch nevertheless kept a cautious gaze toward their German neighbors. Their beliefs erode as German influences began to infiltrate their daily lives, culminating in the occupation of the country in 1940. In her novel “Angels of the Resistance,” Noelle Salazar recounts the story of two sisters who become swept up in the Dutch resistance against the Nazi regime.

Lien and Elif Vinke live in the small town of Haarlem. The teenagers live a quiet, normal life: attending school, assisting at their mother’s shop, relaxing with friends. With the German invasion, they are horrified how their world is turned upside down. Their education shifts toward Nazi propaganda while German soldiers regularly patrol the streets, arresting or interrogating individuals who they deem questionable. Yet the greatest heartache for Lien occurs when Jewish families are loaded into trucks and sent to deportation camps without a murmur of protest from the locals. Her best friend is among them, and she tearily witnesses her forced departure, unable to assist her. This key event sparks the desire for Lien to join the Dutch resistance and hinder the Nazi regime by any means necessary.

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The sisters are contacted by the local resistance representative, and after a series of trials and studies, are permitted to join their shadowy ranks. Over the years, the two girls and their colleagues forge papers, make clandestine deliveries, sabotage ammo depots and shelter and transport downed allies, helping them escape the country. As each mission becomes increasingly dangerous, the two find themselves involved in assassination attempts, using their seemingly feminine vulnerability to take down overbearing or unsuspecting German targets.

Loosely based on real people and events during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, “Angels of the Resistance” is a poignant read, full of heartaches, betrayals and subterfuge. These teenage girls and their colleagues grow up amid the confusion and terror of World War II, when their occupied country could provide no semblance of normalcy. This historical novel is an excellent read about overcoming fears in order to do something meaningful.

David Arndt is a freelance reviewer in Fredericksburg.

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