Born to a privileged Dutch family in the Dutch East Indies, ten-year-old Jeremiah Prins enjoys his position of influence with his fellow children, gained by his exceptional gifts with words, marbles, and his fists. But when the Japanese invade Java in 1942, Jeremiah’s father and older brothers are hauled away to work camps, while Jeremiah, his younger brothers and sisters, and their mentally disturbed mother are locked away in a civilian prison camp.
As conditions deteriorate in the camp, Jeremiah chooses to use his gifts and make sacrifices for the good of the women and children in the camp. But other decisions might come back to haunt him.
Sigmund Brouwer‘s Thief of Glory is a powerful story, richly told. Young Jeremiah Prins is a complex and fascinating hero, blessed with great gifts and challenged by choices to use them for good or evil. The details of life in a Japanese civilian prison camp are revealed in unflinching but compassionate realism, and the characters depict the human capacity for both great selfishness and great heroism. This is truly one of the best books I’ve read this year.