Monday, June 21, 2010

Hidden Letters

The distance of time between the current generation and World War II affects most present-day understanding of what truly happened in Europe during the war. It seems that with each passing year the realism of the time begins to grow warped and highly unrealistic. Over-glamorized portrayals of survival in Hollywood and fictional literature aid in this tragic desensitization of society. Non-fiction and creative works that actually strive for true authenticity are few and far between, and becoming a rarer breed all the time.

This is why Hidden Letters is such a literary gem. Hidden Letters is a collection of letters, photographs, and various documents surrounding the final years of Philip "Flip" Slier, a teenager living in the Netherlands during the German invasion and occupation of 1940. His 86 letters to his parents were uncovered in 1997 in the ceiling of a house in East Amsterdam that was due to be demolished, and sparked the interest of two authors who saw a most remarkable story that needed to be told.

Deborah Slier and Ian Shine spent over seven years compiling information through primary source documents, interviews, and extensive research. Their end result is a stunningly detailed and touching narrative that follows the life of a boy searching for hope in one of the most horrific situations history has ever seen. His letters to his family chronicle his struggle to survive in the face of unimaginable oppression. Flip's story is more than simply inspirational; it makes the reader aware humanity's capacity for good and evil. It pushes us to understand our duty as citizens of the world, and to do what is right even when it is frightening and dangerous. Reading Hidden Letters will most definitely leave an enormous impact on the life of whoever reads it.

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