Tyndale House Publishers (2021)
Reviewed by Cynthia Hammell for Reader Views (04/2021)
“Chasing Shadows” is a World War II novel, and the latest by Christy award-winning author, Lynn Austin.
In 1939, Ans de Vries a 19-year-old farmer’s daughter in the Netherlands decides she wants to leave her Christian home and her village. Her parents are saddened but accept it when she takes a position in the household of a couple in Leiden. Ans meets Erik, a young police officer who may not share her values, especially after the Nazis invade. She knows that God wants her to take a stand against their evil activities even if it could mean extreme risk. Erik tries to persuade her against it. The de Vries family and the couple Ans works for must also takes risks to save lives. Miriam Jacobs, a talented violinist flees Cologne, Germany with her father, a Physics professor, leaving the rest of the family, who are not ready to come with them, behind. They arrive in the Netherlands; her father seeking a teaching job at a University and find a temporary refuge in Leiden. But how long will it last? Engineering student, Avraham (Avi) Leopold follows them to Leiden. Miriam met Avi in a refugee camp and they know they want to spend the rest of their lives together, but will it be possible after the invasion? Will Miriam lose everyone she loves?
Austin tells the story in a memorable and moving way. The dangers and harrowing experiences the characters go through are presented realistically and there are many grim situations. Mothers must put their children into God’s hands. Heroic sacrifices are made in these dire circumstances. Many families wonder if they will see their loved ones again in this lifetime. The novel shows the courage of both the Dutch people who defied the Nazis and the people they recued. Austin writes the story in a compelling way. The author’s notes reveal how real- life stories, which should be remembered inspired her. These stories can challenge the reader to strengthen their faith, because they remind us of how God can give us strength to endure if we trust in Him. He also provides a light even in the darkest of times.