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WWII book speaks of faith through trial

By Liesl Shurtliff

For Mormon Times

Published: Saturday, April 2 2011 7:00 a.m. MDT

"FAITH BEHIND THE FENCES," by Kelly DiSpirito Taylor, Covenant Communications, $15.99, 229 pages (nf)

Kelly DiSpirito Taylor's "Faith Behind the Fences" is the true story of the Londt-Shultz family's incarceration in the Japanese prison camps during World War II. Told from the point-of-view of the oldest daughter, Hanny Londt-Shultz, the story gives us a less-common view of the politics of the people of the Dutch East Indies and their suffering at the hands of the Japanese.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the people of the Dutch East Indies know that the Japanese will come after the country's natural resources. With no military strength, the country endeavors to disable the mines and oil fields in order to render them useless to the enemy. Hanny's father is deeply involved in carrying out the plans, and the family's imprisonment comes soon after.

Reminiscent of Corrie Ten Boom's "The Hiding Place," this is a simple story of perseverance and faith through extreme trial, as well as the resourcefulness that comes in times of deprivation. Though many hardships recounted in the book are horrific, their descriptions are softened in such a way so as not to be too graphic or disturbing.

Taylor, an LDS author who lives in North Carolina, meant this to read like a novel, and though there are a few dramatic scenes that get the blood pumping, many of the significant events are recounted in the narrative or through conversational dialogue, so it feels more like a simple memoir. Rarely do we experience events firsthand with the characters.

No matter the style or format, the book's overarching theme rings true in all the miracles told of this family's trials, but especially in the words of Hanny: "Sometimes our big problems aren't taken away, but instead, little blessings might come along to ease our burdens and help us remember that (God) is still watching over us."

The story of the Londt-Shultz family is one that holds a unique place in World War II history.

Liesl holds a Bachelor on Fine Arts in music, dance and theater and writes middle-grade and young adult fiction. She blogs at writerropes.blogspot.com

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