3 out of 4 stars
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Saskia Hommes now lives in Canada, her dream country, where she moved in 1982 from her homeland, the Netherlands. In the book, she recalled the highlights of her life from her birth in 1961 in Hollandia, New Guinea. Her story unfolded like an exciting movie, including intriguing tidbits about World War II, the unrest in Dutch New Guinea when she was very young, and the secrets that she unearthed about her family. From 18 months old, she was raised in a palatial home in The Hague, but their material wealth did not make up for the love that she longed for.
The book cinematically begins in 1993 with Saskia fumbling with a letter from her mother, Francie. She is about to discover the answer to the nagging question of her childhood. The answer will come with “the six words” that will rock her world.
Katherine Goertz Thompson was given the privilege to write Saskia’s story in My Father’s Daughter: The Surprising Identity of Saskia Hommes. I was moved by the many hardships that Saskia endured in her life, which the author skillfully narrated using Saskia’s voice. “Though wealthy, I felt utterly impoverished” was particularly poignant for me. “Money cannot buy happiness” may be a cliché, but it is undoubtedly true.
This is a Christian book, but non-believers need not shun it. The author is careful to avoid preachy statements. While the book has very little graphic content and almost no profanity, there are scenes that are better suited for a mature audience. Parents are especially invited to read this family drama.
The history of the island of New Guinea fascinated me. Thompson’s discussion of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands and the Dutch resistance movement was likewise enlightening. I would love to watch the acclaimed war film that hugely changed Saskia’s life: Soldier of Orange. I also found Saskia’s prayers to Sinterklaas charming; she was then a child of eight who did not yet know Jesus. (This just shows how popular Ole Santa is!) Saskia’s loving relationship with her horse was heartwarming. I wish the horse was named, though.
Although merely 88 pages, the book would have been more rewarding if the author used chapters to break up Saskia’s story. While the chronology of events was mostly clear throughout, I would have wanted to appreciate her life episodes more. Chapter breaks would have been useful for parsing the events and the attendant lessons. I likewise noted a number of errors that disrupted my reading. I enjoyed the pictures of Saskia and her family (plus her horse!) at the end of the book, but they were tiny. The captions were hardly readable.
I give the book 3 out of 4 stars for its inspiring story of triumph. A Christian myself, I believe that allowing Jesus into one’s life will make it more bearable. Unfortunately, I have to consider the negatives I enumerated above, and they take away one star from my rating. The author can definitely claim that star with ease because the flaws are not irreparable.
I cannot let this review end without saying that the cover is perfect. Like Saskia, I will always be a child and my Father’s daughter.
My Father's Daughter
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