My translation of Annejet van der Zijl’s Sonny Boy, titled The Boy Between Worlds in English, officially came out on August 1 with Amazon Crossing. It seems that people are as fascinated and moved by this story as I was. Check out the reviews on Amazon and GoodReads!
This incredible true story recounts the harrowing journey of a young black man from Suriname, Waldemar, who comes to Holland before WWII and falls in love with Rika, an older Dutch woman who has recently left her Protestant husband. Together they have a son, their little ‘Sonny Boy’, and manage, even in those puritanical pre-war years, to thrive in the liberal beachside town of Scheveningen, where–against all odds–they run a successful guesthouse by the sea. Despite the discrimination they face, despite pressure from Rika’s family, despite the economic crisis, despite everything, they manage to build a happy life and a loving home for their little boy and Rika’s other children. When the Nazis arrive, Scheveningen is transformed into a military base, and eventually, Rika and Waldemar’s home becomes a haven for Jews and Resistance fighters in hiding. The Boy Between Worlds is a story about a brave and controversial couple, who, even though they were largely rejected by Dutch society, were still able to find it in their hearts to help others. It’s about the immeasurable impact of the war and all the tragedy and contradictions that came with it. And it’s about their mixed-race son, Waldy, who bears the burden of his parents’ bravery and grows up a boy between worlds.
The book is available in select bookstores (seen here at Athenaeum in Amsterdam) and on Amazon. If you do get around to reading it, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Be sure to stick with it until the very end!