4 out of 4 stars
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Kismet is a gripping memoir written by Edith H. Lavroff, interestingly taking us through the first forty years of the author's life. It has two major sections, with the first one focussing on Edith's childhood, and the other, her adulthood years. Edith and her parents lived in Indonesia where her father was working as a Dutch soldier, and life was good and peaceful. However, this was not to last for long. In 1942, when Edith was six, the Japanese invaded Indonesia (a Dutch colony by then) and captured the Dutch and Indonesian soldiers. Subdued, the Japanese then took them away from their families and assigned them various kinds of hard labor. Women and children were also taken to separate camps specially allocated to them. This marked the beginning of the family's life away from one another. In this book, the author aptly takes us through what they went through in those Japanese concentration camps. We witness the brutality and inhumane living conditions they were subjected to in the hands of their captors and their subsequent hopelessness due to an uncertain, bleak future. But that's not all. Apart from the experiences in the Japanese concentration camps, the author shares her post-war years and how they adjusted to a normal life after those traumatizing years. I greatly enjoyed this book and found it a journey worth traveling.
I also liked how well the author wrote this book. The recurring themes are hope, resilience, passionate love, and strength of a woman, among others, and I liked the fact that they were beautifully knitted into the story. This memoir is engaging and was separated into short, engrossing chapters. Each chapter had a distinct objective. I also liked how the author meticulously captured her emotions surrounding the World War II era, and readers can feel what she and the other captives went through. She also maintained historical accuracy, giving us insights into the events that took place during that time and some elements of ancient civilizations' history. I couldn't help but notice how knowledgeable and passionate the author is about ancient history. This is something history fans will instantly realize and love. The author's incorporation of visuals such as drawings and pictures also added to this book's appeal. Besides, I liked that this book was eye-opening. It depicts passionate love but without explicit sexual content, and the author's reflections on some of the things she went through in her life are full of lessons I feel parents should not miss out on. For instance, among others, readers will learn the importance of teaching their children about their sexuality instead of leaving them to learn it from somewhere else, which is normally detrimental. All these enhanced my enjoyment of this book and overall reading experience.
My favorite aspect of this book is the fact that it captures how it was like to live in the Japanese concentration camps during World War II, as captives and prisoners of war, a part of history hardly illuminated. As a history fan and as someone mostly accustomed to the Holocaust, I found this aspect eye-opening and insightful, and I felt privileged learning those accounts from someone who had experienced them first-hand. So, I believe history fans not aware of this part of history or simply want to gain a different perspective of those events will gain a lot from this wonderful memoir.
All in all, I didn't find anything critical to say about this book. I believe it was professionally edited since I found only one minor error. I am, therefore, glad to award Kismet by Edith H. Lavroff 4 out of 4 stars.
To fans of memoirs, and in general, readers who like history and passionate love stories, I highly recommend this. Parents and guardians will also learn a lot from this book, for instance, the importance of sex educating their children, among others. On the other hand, I can't find anyone to caution against picking this book.
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