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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
The Hidden Village: A Story of Survival in WW2 Holland is a historical young adult adventure by author Imogen Matthews. Focused specifically on how the events of the Holocaust affected Holland during the 1940s, the hidden village of the title refers to the true-life story of a group of Jewish people hiding from the Germans and Hitler’s agenda. The village of Berkenhout, hidden in the woods of Veluwe, is the new home of Sofie, a Jewish Dutch girl torn from her friends and her normal life. Secrets abound in Berkenhout, and security there may not be as secure as everyone hopes. As Jews and gentiles, Dutch and other nationalities come together to protect one another, a disaster lurks and threatens to engulf them all.
I am a huge advocate of historical fiction for young adults, particularly when it’s as well-researched as The Hidden Village. Imogen Matthews has taken a truly fascinating concept straight out of occupied territory and crafted a beautiful story that removes us from the overdone fiction of the battlefield to the real places where ordinary people became heroes that weren’t venerated. A blending of religions occurs as people protect one another, regardless of their beliefs. Sofie and Jan are strong central characters who are still young and naïve despite their horrendous circumstances. The plot itself is slow and steady, but filled with tension and fascinating details of the everyday lives of people trapped in an unbelievably pressured situation. The Hidden Village is recommended for readers of all ages, and especially to those looking for a heartfelt emotional journey.