The Songbird and the Rambutana by Lucille Abendanon
Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction
Publishing Date: January 23, 2024
Batavia, Dutch East Indies, 1942.
Emmy has the voice of an angel but hasn’t sung a note since a family tragedy. With war looming, her father plans to ship her off to a singing school in England for safety. But all Emmy wants to do is stay in Batavia with her best friend, Bakti, even if it means putting up with her snooty classmate, Violet. Then the Japanese army invades—and as war erupts in the Dutch East Indies, Emmy’s world falls apart.
When her own actions sabotage her chance to evacuate the island, Emmy is captured and confined in the Tjideng prisoner-of-war camp with other women and children. Separated from her family and friends, and silenced by her grief, Emmy will need all her strength to survive the war, find her voice, and reclaim her freedom.
Content Warning: War, invasion, prisoners of war, grief, violence
About the Author:
Lucille Abendanon has always lived a life on the move. She grew up in Norfolk before emigrating to South Africa when she was twelve. She has three nationalities and over the past twenty years has called Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey and The Netherlands home. She holds an MA in International Studies, and recently returned to the UK to give her three boys a slice of the rural childhood she enjoyed. She is an alumnus of the Curtis Brown Creative Writing YA and Children’s Fiction course, and has contributed to numerous anthologies about living abroad and raising multicultural kids on the move.
I don't normally gravitate to Historical Novels but this book intrigued me as Tenko was mentioned and I remembered the TV programme so I applied to go on the blog tour.
This story was so powerful while reading it I went through so many emotions from laughter to tears to utter shock and back to tears so much so I literally had a book hangover and had to wait to get my thoughts together.
Emmy was such a strong character and it floored me when I read the Author's Notes which everyone needs to read to see how much detail Lucille had used to research in my view a masterpiece of Middle Grade and it is her debut which actually shook me.
I am being deliberate in not mentioning anything about the plot or characters as I feel the less you know the more this story will captivate you.
For all the above reasons I am giving this wonderful book 5 stars and I will be looking forward to see what Lucille does next