My Sister’s Book


What I see in the mirror, may not be what you see.

Here I go again wandering away from my blog’s gardening focus, BUT if Pam Penick of long-time garden blog, Digging, can write about roller derby girls–and I didn’t notice any flower pots on their heads as they skated–then I can fall off, every once in a while, and write about something else too.

My sister’s book manuscript was finally sent to the publisher and will come out this fall.  She’s worked on it for several years, and I am proud of her even though we aren’t particularly close and hold divergent opinions regarding our family or perhaps I should say “her” family. (And, no, I’m not trying to get you to buy a copy of her book by posting this. It’s just something that’s weighs heavily on my mind.)

Below is a “blurb” about her book.

From the web address,

ALL SHIPS FOLLOW ME  A Family’s Inheritance of War

By Mieke Eerkens

US publisher: Picador (North American rights)

To publish: Fall 2017

MS available in May 2017

Rights sold: Holland (De Geus)

Poland (Agora)

A brilliant and heartrending World War II memoir by Dutch-American author Mieke Eerkens, on par with Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken and Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes.

ALL SHIPS FOLLOW ME is an untold World War II story that challenges our perception of victim and perpetrator, and blurs the lines of war. In March 1942, a ten-year-old boy living in the Dutch East Indies was interned, like a hundred thousand other Dutch civilians, in a Japanese concentration camp doing hard labor for three years, until the atomic bombings caused the Japanese to surrender.

Meanwhile, across the globe, Dutch police carried a crying five-year-old girl out of her home at the war’s end, abandoned and ostracized as a daughter of Nazi sympathizers in the Netherlands. It was the post-war period of reckoning, the so-called “hatchet day” where Nazi collaborators were tortured in the same concentration camps where the Jews had just been liberated from.

Many years later, the boy and girl met as adults, and married and had children. The author is one of these children, and ALL SHIPS FOLLOW ME is her remarkable memoir of the inheritance of war.

Mieke Eerkens teaches creative writing for UCLA Extension’ Writers Program.

Her work has appeared in various places such as The Atlantic, Los Angeles Review of Books, PEN America, Pank, and Guernica.

Until recently, I always thought my sister was the lucky one to have grown up with our father, but as I’ve gotten older, I’m not so sure.

And so, I anxiously await THE book.  (I’d love to get a free copy, but I think like everyone else, I’ll have to pay for one.)

My sister is a good writer, but will she or is she allowed to tell the truth–not so much about the history of events–but more about the character of the individuals involved? Will she embellish her story or be truthful?  Will she evoke pity or respect or shock about family members?  Or will she even delve into their behaviors and personalities?

And does she explore the possible link between DNA and war trauma???

Her book’s focus changed from the course of its inception to include her mother who is my step-mother. I never knew until now what is hinted by the book’s description of my step-mother’s early life. I was shocked, and I’m not easily shocked.

Most of all, does my sister know about my family’s theory regarding our father’s behavior? Does it even matter?

I, too, have written about my father, but certainly nothing that is book-length, and not about his hellish time in the Japanese concentration camp.

Once I’ve read the book, I’ll post an update.

5 thoughts on “My Sister’s Book

  1. Sounds like an interesting book on what must be a most difficult subject, especially when it relates to your family. We have an Australian-Dutch friend who had family members interred by in Indonesia during WWII and there were also many Australians who had a bad time there. I hope that you do not find the book too shocking.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think the book will be interesting & I hope I don’t find anything else shocking in it. The shock is that I thought I knew all about my stepmother. Apparently not. I also didn’t know there were Australians in Indonesia at that time. I just knew that all non-Indonesians were encamped. I’m glad you knew about this already because there are many people who think only German concentration camps existed in WWII.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There was the terrible prisoner of war camp, Changi, where many Australian soldiers died of malnutrition and mistreatment. A whole group of Australian nurses were also shot on a beach with only 1 survivor, Nurse Bullwinkle, who became a national hero. It was a horrible period in the world’s history, especially for civilians on all sides.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry, it was not Changi. That was in Singapore but there were plenty of others in Indonesia that were bad.


      2. Wow, I didn’t know that. I agree it was an awful time and so many people died. My father’s little sister stole vegetable tops from the main kitchen’s garbage to grow in her own “secret” garden because they had almost nothing to eat. I’ll have to read more about Nurse Bullwinkle. Thanks!


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