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The Hiding Place
My Rating: 3.7 out of 5  

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In Nazi occupied Holland, a close knit, devout Christian family risked their home and their lives to help those in need. Corrie ten Boom was the daughter of a watchmaker and the first woman to be certified as a watchmaker in Holland. A spinster, she lived with her older sister and elderly father in her family home above the watch shop they owned. The family was well known in the community for their gracious charity, often welcoming foster children and temporary visitors to their residence for a bite to eat or a bed to sleep in. When Holland fell to German rule, the ten Booms refused to close their door to those in need even though assisting Jews in any way was against the law. Corrie became the head of a secret Underground network in Holland that helped Jews find safe hiding places and escape Nazi arrest. When the police raided the ten Boom home during one of their weekly community Bible studies, the family gave up everything to protect the Jews hidden in a secret room at the top of house.

The Hiding Place is an inspirational tale of how the ten Boom family held fast to their convictions and spread a message of love and hope during one of the most dark, fearful, hate-fulled times in modern history. While the narrative is reminiscent of the sentimental novel of the 18th century, a style I typically don't care for, I found the story to be quite a gripping page-turner, especially when Corrie and her family start building their Underground network and then eventually they are arrested and sent to various prisons and concentration camps after the raid.
The Evangelical message got pretty heavy-handed at times, which I would not have minded as much had the narrative not glossed over the more disturbing incidents as well. I'm not saying an explicit account of every awful thing is necessary but I felt that better depictions of the real horrors of the Nazi camp life would have helped to balance out the unbelievable abundance of miracles and supernatural provisions depicted in the story. Without that balance, what is billed as an autobiographical tale, to me, came off as overly preachy and a bit too unrealistic and exaggerated to be completely true. After I finished the book I found out that it was written decades after the events so perhaps I had expected a higher degree of accuracy than the book intended to portray. I think that's okay though because the story is still a good one in my opinion.

The actual storytelling is really great, full of wonderful characterization and vivid details--some seemingly too precise to be real--that effortlessly transport the reader decades into the past. I truly admire the ten Booms for their principles and their courage to stand up for what is right in the face of danger. I liked that "Corrie the narrator" wasn't afraid to share her faults, that even as a woman of faith she genuinely grappled with some difficult situations with uncertainty. Corrie often contrasted her flawed thoughts and behavior with her sister, Betsy, whom she greatly esteemed. But where Corrie came across as relatable, Besty appeared saintly in every thought and act. I'll chalk this up to sororal admiration. The faith and strength of the sisters enduring dire circumstances together was truly beautiful. Their entire family's selflessness had a lasting impact on many, as did their message of love and forgiveness following the end of the war. Indeed, kindness without condition, love without judgement, faith without fear...these are the core messages of the book, a reminder that such virtues really can change the world, one person at a time.

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#3 - The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

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