On Thin Ice

Short Stories of Life and Dating After 50

Fiction - Drama
196 Pages
Reviewed on 03/23/2013
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I was born and raised in the Netherlands. I am a full time social worker since my mid-twenties, and recently also an author. My pleasure in writing turned into a passion three years ago when I completed intensive summer creative writing courses with author Laisha Rosnau at UBC - Okanagan and with Dona Sturmanis at Okanagan College to hone my skills. Since then I had some success with my stories: finalist in the local short Story contest (sponsored by UBCO, OC and CBC-public broadcast network; finalist in Canada Writes, the national CBC writing contest 2012; finalist in the Glimmer Train Magazine short story contest for new writers Feb 2012.
Some stories were published: MTLS issue #9, 2011 Fort Good Hope (ISSN 1916-341X) and # 12, 2012 Without a Home (ISSN 1916-341X); Sageing with Creative Spirit, Grace and Gratitude, Issue 4, Summer 2012 (ISSN 1920-5848.
I self-published a novel-in-stories inspired by my life adventures as an E book in 2012: On Thin Ice. http://www.babyboomerwrites.com
The cover of this book awarded “sophisticated” in the Book Designer’s Book Cover Awards (Joel Friedlander) May 2012.
I am working on a second novel, to be published in spring of 2013; http://www.LosingDadFindingDad.com
I also blog: http://www.babyboomerwrites.worpress.com

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

We first meet Adrienne in On Thin Ice when she's a young adult of 28 in Amsterdam. She's had two relationships: Harry, her first, a gentle soul of a man who doesn't seem to make her swoon, and Ethan, the son of a wealthy candle manufacturer, who introduces her to the finer things in life, including passion. Adrienne becomes more worldly through these experiences but really comes to life when she travels to northern Canada to visit her childhood friend, Hank, at the site where he works. After the crowded and limited landscape of Europe, the wide open spaces, flocks of wildfowl and chains of rivers and lakes of Canada stun her with their magnificence and make her their own. Adrienne, with the help of Hank and a new love interest, Bert, another worker at the site, is granted permission to establish residency in Canada provided she marries within three months.

Johanna Van Zanten has created an intriguing view of a baby-boomer generation woman who has a background that is both sheltered and cosmopolitan. She is most alive when exploring, especially in her trip to the First Nations meeting, and when she sets up her garden, where she enjoys the visits from a local bear and marvels at the Aurora Borealis. She is less successful with her love interests. Bert, her husband, opts for a long-distance job oversees and forms an attachment to an Italian woman. When their marriage ends, she becomes a match maker for her friends and marvels at the reasons why people who seem perfectly matched can't seem to get past one or two dates. Her efforts are likewise flawed, from the stiff and co-dependent British gent to the 70-year-old pensioner from Boise who takes out his hearing aid at every concert they attend. Her dating life is sad and funny all at once, but what really stands out in this entertaining piece is the lyricism when the reader sees Canada for the first time through her eyes.

Dr. Oliva Dsouza

Adrienne has lived on her own terms from the time she was a teenager and rebelled against her conservative, religious parents. She has lived in different countries, dated different men and formed her own opinions about life and its challenges. As she matures, gets married and then goes through a separation, she learns that sometimes life is not all honey and roses. Dating again and trying to find a meaningful relationship while balancing her professional life make up the rest of the story.

"On Thin Ice" by Johanna Van Zanten takes the reader through the life cycle of a woman from teens through adulthood and beyond in an engaging read that really makes one think whether a woman should take her chances no matter what age. Adrienne, the protagonist of the plot comes across as a seasoned and strong woman who knows her mind but at times ends up making wrong decisions just like us. Her will to build a new life after the breakdown of her marriage is heartening. Her pioneering spirit is the highlight of the book as she never hesitates to move places or take up new challenges/jobs to keep herself going. Through the different phases of her life, one can literally see the character learn and grow as she matures from a young girl to a woman of the world. Will Alex turn out to be the man of her dreams or life still has someone else in store for her? Is love actually possible after you have crossed the age where romance fills your head and love is a dream made up of gossamer threads with dew drops on them glistening in the sun?

Maria Beltran

On Thin Ice: Short Stories of Life and Dating After 50, by Johanna van Zanten is an engaging collection of short stories. As the title suggests, this is the life story of Adrienne as she makes her journey in life. In the liberating years of the Sixties, she was in her twenties and in the middle of the European scene in liberated Holland. We later get to share her first date, her broken heart, the death of her parents, and her divorce. Migrating to Canada, Adrienne has raised a child into teen-hood and is now in her fifties. She ends up alone but able to reconcile with her past and what awaits her in the future.

Johanna van Zanten writes simply and spontaneously. Her words seem to flow into the pages of this book and it is quite obvious that the subject is very close to her heart. Adrienne simply wants to find love and a place for herself in this world. From the age of 28, she goes on a life journey, which may not be unlike what many women all over the world are going through, in the course of their lives. Adrienne leads what would seem like an ordinary life, peppered with some exciting adventures. This is a story that will not increase your pulse rate because Johanna van Zanten tells her story in a such a subtle way that makes it quite a relaxing and interesting experience. And the balance of her narrative voice to the story that she is telling is just perfect. Most women will be able to relate to this book.