Book Review

Review: Snow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma

West Michigan is filled with families with Dutch names. Van- is the start of many and others end in -dyke or -stra (my personal favorite) among other signifiers of a name’s origin. In Holland, Michigan, each spring Tulip Time causes busy streets as people from around the world flock to the city. Tulips lanes border the streets, a riot of color everywhere. It isn’t uncommon to walk around and hear a strong Dutch accent. In fact, for the few years I was able to know him, my husband’s grandfather spoke with a heavy accent.

Being familiar with things like this can help bring a piece of fiction to life. Character’s voices easily sound in my ears and words that wouldn’t normally make sense to me, I can figure out without having to look up translations. Even if the setting took place in Europe 70 years ago. It is important to remember the events that shape the world in which we live today. Fiction can aid in that, alongside of other forms of preserving truth. 

When I was in college, I had an opportunity to see a documentary about the Dutch Resistance (The Reckoning) as well as hear one of the individuals involved in the movement speak. Unfortunately, it was long enough ago that I don’t remember too much about it, other than being emotionally affected by the event and that it was my first exposure to this aspect of history. Appalled by what was happening to the Dutch Jews, a movement was formed in the Netherlands, known as the Dutch Resistance. The members of the resistance worked to essentially sabotage Germany and showed signs of protest. The group also helped support the people who worked to hid the Jews. It is within this setting that Liz Tolsma‘s Snow on the Tulips takes place.

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**I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review**

A stranger’s life hangs in the balance. But to save him is to risk everything. The war is drawing to a close, but the Nazis still occupy part of the Netherlands. After the losses she’s endured, war widow Cornelia is only a shadow of the woman she once was. She fights now to protect her younger brother, Johan, who lives in hiding. When Johan brings Gerrit Laninga, a wounded Dutch Resistance member, to Cornelia’s doorstep, their lives are forever altered. Although scared of the consequences of harboring a wanted man, Cornelia’s faith won’t let her turn him out. As she nurses Gerrit back to health, she is drawn to his fierce passion and ideals, and notices a shift within herself. Gerrit’s intensity challenges her, making her want to live fully, despite the fear that constrains her. When the opportunity to join him in the Resistance presents itself, Cornelia must summon every ounce of courage imaginable. She is as terrified of loving Gerrit as she is of losing him. But as the winter landscape thaws, so too does her heart. Will she get a second chance at true love? She fears their story will end before it even begins.

From page one, Snow on the Tulips drew me in. It all starts with a man’s execution gone wrong. Somehow, he has been saved. Wounded, but saved. So when the Gestapo comes back to collect their dead prisoners, and one is missing, the search brings danger to the village and more specifically to those harboring him.

Wanting to learn more about Gerrit Laninga made the first part of this book a page turner. There were so many questions surrounding why he was wanted and the threat of the Gestapo had me fearing for Cornelia and her brother, Johan. However, after the first bit, something in the novel changed and I actually became a bit bored with it.

Fortunately, toward the last third of the book, the tension picked up and drew me back in. The stakes were definitely raised as desperation set in for the characters.

Throughout the book, there seemed to be a theme of trusting in God for both protection and peace, and trying to follow God’s will. For some of the characters, this is a struggle and some of the other characters teach them about it.

Despite feeling a bit sluggish in the middle, I did find Snow on the Tulips to be a fast read. I enjoyed it’s setting and capturing a part of WWII that doesn’t seem to appear in fiction novels as frequently. Liz Tolsma has a second WWII novel out (Daisies are Forever) that I hope to pick up to read at some point.

For more on the author or this book, please check out the following links:

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