Winner of both the prestigious Michael L. Printz Award and Britain's Carnegie Medal, Aidan Chambers's sophisticated and rewarding Postcards from No Man's Land weaves together past and present, connecting the experiences of two Jacob Todds -- a deceased war hero and his teenage grandson -- across time and place.
Seventeen-year-old Jacob Todd goes to Amsterdam to honor the memory of his grandfather, a soldier who died in the WWII Battle of Arnhem. Shortly after arriving in the city, Jacob is robbed by a transvestite and forced to stay with the outspoken grandson of Geertrui, the woman who cared for Jacob's grandfather during the war. During his stay, Jacob comes to learn more about Amsterdam, his own sexuality, the history of WWII in the Netherlands, and the remarkable Geertrui, whose wartime experiences unfold in a compelling parallel story line.
As she lies dying of cancer, Geertrui discusses her life as a young woman during the Nazi occupation, including the tale of how she tended to -- and fell in love with -- Jacob's grandfather. But as the old woman prepares for her assisted suicide, she confesses a deep secret that brings their worlds closer than young Jacob ever could have imagined.
Chambers's novel is multilayered and thought-provoking, covering many difficult topics in its sophisticated, often surprising plot. The book is filled with contrasts and connections between Jacob's experiences in contemporary Amsterdam and the wartime history of Holland, and the author even uses the Dutch language and Amsterdam itself to link Jacob to the past and to his own self-discovery. A remarkable read for teens and young adults, this is one award winner that lives up to its hype. Matt Warner