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Book Lost in the Fog: Memoir of a Bastard: A Belgian Recalls the War, the Nazis, Her Fractured Life by Meers, Rachel Van (2008)

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Lost in the Fog: Memoir of a Bastard: A Belgian Recalls the War, the Nazis, Her Fractured Life by Meers, Rachel Van (2008)

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Lost in the Fog: Memoir of a Bastard: A Belgian Recalls the War, the Nazis, Her Fractured Life by Meers, Rachel Van (2008).pdf | Language: UNKNOWN
    Rachel Van Meers(Author)

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  • Rachel Van Meers(Author)
  • Chicago Review Press (1709)
  • Unknown
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  • By J. J. Farrugia on August 22, 2008

    Rachel Van Meers' story begins in Ghent, Belgium in the 1930s, where she was born in a home for unwed mothers. Raised between opposite poles, by her strict Roman Catholic grandmother on one end and her rebellious mother on the other, Rachel's account of life during the Great Depression and the onset of WWII is an enthralling one. "I was different" she says. "When you were a bastard they didn't care for you because you were born in sin."Being born out of wedlock in Belgium at that time was indeed an unfortunate circumstance, and it shaped the whole of Rachel's life, from an impressionable little girl who came face to face with death at a young age to the strong-hearted woman she became. Almost completely lacking in friends her own age, she was left to the peculiar upbringing of her quirky aunts and uncles, all in their early twenties when the story begins. It's apparent they all have a genuine affection for the good-natured and unselfish little Rachel, as I did, and it is especially heartbreaking when they occasionally turn on her around others, a constant reminder that she was the skeleton in the family closet.In a family already divided, the war only carved a deeper rift between her relatives. Her mother and her stepfather were both supporters of the Nazis and when confronted by their daughter's difference of opinion decided to "discipline" her by sending her to a child labor camp in Germany. The camp is something unusual, established in a rural farmhouse on the outskirts of Austria. One side was a restaurant, where the German officers came to dance and drink every night, and the other was ruled by the iron hand of the head woman Nazi leader, Eulla Alberts, whose sole object was to conform the twenty or so preteen girls on how to be "good Nazis." It's a picture of WWII prison camps unlike any I'd ever read about before. Even though there were constant tensions, the relationship that forms between the defiant thirteen-year-old Rachel and the powerful German woman is in itself extraordinary, and speaks of Rachel's almost saintly affect on the people she meets.Rachel returns home in time to witness first-hand the war's end, as allied troops march into Belgium. Her many stories about what happened in Belgium after it was freed, both to her own family and Belgium as a whole, is absorbing. Then as she embarks into her journey away from home, she constantly fights against her mother's image, determined not to follow in her footsteps. Unlike some biographies I've read, this one is fast-paced and Rachel's life never slows down, moving swiftly from one amazing story to another. She seemed to be everywhere the action was, dodging bombs from Allied Air Raids, to the famous waterfront Union Strikes in Antwerp after the war.This book is an oral history, taken from actual interviews with Rachel. I felt that the author, Daniel Chase, captured her voice very well. The decision to go with her own way of speaking was risky, but in the end it's her voice that I think makes this book something truly special. Her personality leapt right off the page to me, her wonderfully rye sense of humor, and her ability to describe the remarkable people she encounters in her life so well. I could almost imagine sitting down with her in her living room and hearing the stories from her own lips.This is a captivating look at the war, but I related to it especially as an amazing and deeply personal tale of a young girl overcoming very difficult odds. It was both shocking what she endured, and it's inspirational to see how Rachel as an older woman worked out the lingering effects of the world she left behind. Her final revelation with her mother is powerful, and will stick with you long after you put it down.

  • By BeverlyJ on August 20, 2008

    "You should never have been born. You're nails in my coffin."In her memoir, Lost in the Fog: Memoir of a Bastard, Rachel Van Meers tells Daniel Chase what life was like for her as a child, born in a home for unwed mothers in Ghent, Belgium, 1930, to her present day life in the United States. Using Rachel's own unique voice, Daniel relates her life with a tender story that will make the reader laugh, cry, and cheer for this unlikely heroine.Considering her experiences with a mother who not only verbally abused her by saying things such as the opening statement, but sometimes even hitting her, and leaving Rachel mostly to her grandmother, a strict and religious woman, to raise, Rachel could well have become a bitter child and woman, yet her attitude remained positive, for the most part. She loved her mother, Helene, simply because she was Helene's daughter. She loved her grandmother and adored her grandfather.Rachel survived the advances of her stepfather and a child labor camp in Germany. Her health was bad and she sometimes wondered where she would live, but when she was older she worked hard at many different jobs to support herself. She believed in miracles and tells us of the miracles that occurred in her life. Rachel is an inspiration and a wonderful role model for young women, men too, to follow when faced with the cruelties that life sometimes brings.This would make a great book for high school history classes, college courses, and for everyone who enjoys stories about history and war.


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