Book

Wilma Geldof

The Girl with the Braids

An impressive YA novel about the youngest girl in the Dutch resistance during WWII

The death of the Dutch Freddie Oversteegen (92), on 5 September 2018, attracted a lot of attention from the international media. From Brazil and India to Denmark and America, journalists told the story of Freddie, who, as a teenager, became part of the Dutch armed resistance during WWII.

This book is about her gripping true-life story. Wilma Geldof ’s cinematic account is based on actual events, which she has crafted to serve her story, with the permission of Freddie, who helped her when she was writing the book.

Freddie, vividly portrayed as a young and spirited girl, is only fourteen when she and her sister join the resistance. They’re afraid of nothing and no one, and Freddie looks like she’s about twelve, so no German soldiers are going to suspect her of working for the resistance. Their mother impresses upon them that they should never become like the enemy: ‘Don’t kill any people […] no matter how bad they are.’

But once they are in the resistance, the girls become involved in eliminating Nazis and their sympathizers. At first they lure their targets into traps, using their clumsy skills of seduction, and later they actually shoot them too. The story is highly tense at such moments and its explicit tone is often shocking, even more so because, as a reader, you share Freddie’s conflicting emotions. ‘It’s as if I’m not myself anymore,’ thinks Freddie after killing a man. ‘As if part of me stayed behind with him.’

There has never been such raw writing about the resistance in a YA novel before. Freddie’s inner struggle intensifies, particularly when the occupying forces execute innocent people in reprisals for the actions of the resistance. ‘Is the line between good and bad less clear-cut than I always thought?’

The introduction of a fictional romance between Freddie and a boy who does not join the resistance works well, giving Freddie a foil and reminding the reader that she is also still a teenager, on her way to adulthood.

An absorbing and important book.

De Grote Vriendelijke Podcast

A believable portrait of an incredibly brave girl, who puts everything at stake […] The intensity of the resistance work and the insanity of war are beautifully captured.

Sevendays

Translations

Wilma Geldof

Wilma Geldof (b. 1962) made her debut in 2001 with Kiki op zoek naar Tom (Kiki’s Looking for Tom), for children aged 8 and up, and went on to write seven realistic books for teen readers. Her big breakthrough, however, came with the YA novel Elke dag een druppel gif (A Drop of Poison Every Day)…

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Details

Het meisje met de vlechtjes (2018). Children's books, 335 pages.

Age: 15+

Themes: WWII

Publisher

Luitingh-Sijthoff

Leidsegracht 105 a
1017 ND Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20-530 73 40
Fax: +31 20-626 26 51

E-mail:
dorien@sharedstories.nl
Website:
http://www.boekenwereld.com

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