Joke van Leeuwen
About the resilience of people in uncertain times.
When reading Bezoekjaren (Visiting Years, 1999), you realize just how important the rule of law is. Zima grows up in a large family in Casablanca during the dictatorial reign of King Hassan II. One day, her eldest brother, Amrar, does not come home. He has spoken out against the authorities and is being detained without a fair trial.
Van Leeuwen corresponded for years with a political prisoner in Morocco. After his release and at the request of his sister, she wrote an account of his story. By telling it from the perspective of his younger sister, she gives this gripping YA novel the same sense of lightness and wonder that is so present in Van Leeuwen’s books for younger children. This is a story about the resilience of people in times when everything is uncertain and about the damage done to a family under the yoke of dictatorship.