Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: When a Toy Dog Became a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew, by Hendrika de Vries {ends 8/29}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

The room grew silent, and I could barely breathe as she answered him: “But don’t you understand that is exactly why I did it,” and pointing her finger at his chest as if in reprimand, she added, “Don’t you realize that not one of our children is safe unless they are all safe.”

“Oh that’s just stupid, foolish nonsense,” he scoffed. At which point other family members chimed in to defend my mother, and one of my aunts shooed us children out of the room and out of earshot of the ensuing argument.

But something new broke into my awareness during that exchange between my mother and my uncle that would continue to plague me well into my adult years. In that crucial moment, a moment that would etch itself on my memory, I heard as if for the very first time how carelessly the word foolish rolled off men’s lips and how acceptable it seemed to them to address my mother in a tone of voice that belittled her as if she were a small, ignorant child. Memories of the Dutch Nazis mocking her for hiding “the Jewess” and the Amsterdam bureaucrat’s condescension as he lectured her on losing her identity card that had been stolen merged with the dismissive tone of my uncle’s scorn. I knew for certain in that moment that no one, absolutely no one, would have spoken to my father in that demeaning way, and it awakened a feeling of anger in me at an injustice I could not yet clearly name.

While I found the title of this book a little daunting (and I don’t think I’ve repeated it correctly yet), the book was excellent. It’s on my list of favorite memoirs, with a necessary recounting of history, in a readable and engaging style.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: When a Toy Dog Became a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew, by Hendrika de Vries {ends 8/29}
Born in the Netherlands at a time when girls are to be housewives and mothers and nothing else, Hendrika de Vries is a “daddy’s girl” until her father is deported from Nazi-occupied Amsterdam to a POW camp in Germany and her mother joins the Resistance. In the aftermath of her father’s departure, Hendrika watches as freedoms formerly taken for granted are eroded with escalating brutality by men with swastika armbands who aim to exterminate those they deem “inferior” and those who do not obey.

As time goes on, Hendrika absorbs her mother’s strength and faith, and learns about moral choice and forced silence. She sees her hidden Jewish “stepsister” betrayed, and her mother interrogated at gunpoint. She and her mother suffer near starvation, and they narrowly escape death on the day of liberation. But they survive it all―and through these harrowing experiences, Hendrika discovers the woman she wants to become.

This is a beautifully written memoir about a girl living through Nazi occupation, just a few blocks from Anne Frank. Hendrika de Vries didn’t have to hide usually, but she and her mother had to live carefully and quietly, so they didn’t draw any unwanted attention. At the same time, her mother also had to do everything to provide for them while her father was a prisoner of war.

The author narrates the intertwined relationship with her mother in a way that shows not only its necessity, but also tells of the way it influenced her future with others, when they were finally able to move freely and separately. Gender roles became a lot more complicated when the women who took care of it all while the war was going on suddenly were expected to return to the nurturing background when their men returned.

I really liked this book. I haven’t read The Diary of Anne Frank in a long time, but I still find it fascinating that these two young girls were struggling within walking distance of each other, victims of the war in completely different ways. Overall, I’d give When a Toy Dog Became a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew 4.5 out of 5 stars. I would like to know more of the author’s life after her teenage years (when this story ended) and learn more about how she worked through the trauma of the war.

{click here to pre-order on Amazon - book will be released on August 27, 2019}

Becki Bayley is a wife, mother, school employee and book reviewer. She also blogs at


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of this book!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Thursday, August 29th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified via email the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

When a Toy Dog Became a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew, by Hendrika de Vries


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