Java Island, 1941
Six-year-old Rita Vischer cowers in her family’s dug-out bomb shelter, listening to the sirens and waiting for a bomb to fall. Her charmed life on Java—living with other Dutch families—had always been peaceful, but when Holland declares war on Japan and the Japanese army invades Indonesia, Rita’s family is forced to relocate to a POW camp, and Rita must help care for her little brother, Georgie.
Mary Vischer is three months pregnant when she enters the Tjident women’s camp with thousands of other women and children. Her husband, George, is somewhere on the Java Sea with the Dutch Navy, so she must care alone for her young children, Rita and Georgie, and her frail mother. The brutal conditions of the overcrowded camp make starvation, malaria, and dysentery a grim reality. Mary must do everything she can to keep her family alive.
George Vischer survives the bombing of his minesweeper but feels little hope floating on a small dinghy in the Java Sea. Reaching the northern tip of the Thousand Island would be a miracle. Focusing on the love of his life, Mary, and his two children, he battles against the sea and merciless sun. He’ll do whatever it takes to close the divide between him and his family, even if it means risking being captured by the Japanese.
Under the Java Moon highlights a little-known part of WWII history and the impact of war on Indonesia, its people, and the more than 100,000 Dutch men, women, and children who were funneled into prison camps and faced with the ultimate fight for survival.
If anyone was going to tell the story of The Vischer family and their experiences during World War II, it had to be Author Heather B. Moore. Once again this is a country that I had no idea was so affected during this terrible war. The Dutch East Indies was occupied by the Japanese and the Dutch people living there were placed in prison camps. The horrors of war spread far and wide over the world.
Rita, her parents, her grandmother, and her younger brother Georgie were living a happy life until Holland declared war on Japan. George had gone off to fight the war, while Mary, Rita's mom, is left to run things for the family while she is three months along in her pregnancy. The atrocities start as soon as Mary, her mother, and her children are sent to the prison camp. The women and children suffered so many things there including starvation, beatings, disease, and death. At times it was painful to read the abuse that was taking place in the camps. Mary was an incredibly strong woman who did everything in her power to keep her family safe and alive.
The last several chapters of the book brought me to tears. You are brought along on this emotional journey and can't help but be moved greatly by the events that took place to real people. I'm glad that Rita told her family's story. It needed to be told. As always, Heather B. Moore did copious amounts of research before and during the writing process of this book.
Under The Java Moon needs to be read by all people, from all countries and walks of life. We need to remember and learn from our world history so the horridness of this war is not allowed to take place again. Though reading about war is never pleasant, I feel I honor the sacrifices that so many people made who lived and died during WWII. This is a must-read book, especially for historical fiction lovers.
****Meet Author Heather B. Moore****
Heather B. Moore is a USA Today bestselling author of more than ninety publications. Heather writes primarily historical and #herstory fiction about the humanity and heroism of the everyday person. Publishing in a breadth of genres, Heather dives into the hearts and souls of her characters, meshing her love of research with her love of storytelling.
Her ancient era historicals and thrillers are written under pen name H.B. Moore. She writes historical women's fiction, romance and inspirational non-fiction under Heather B. Moore, and . . . speculative fiction under Jane Redd. This can all be confusing, so her kids just call her Mom. Heather attended Cairo American College in Egypt and the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel. Despite failing her high school AP English exam, Heather persevered and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University in something other than English.
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Literary honors: 2020 Goodreads Choice Award Semi-Finalist, Foreword 2020 INDIES Finalist, ALA Best New Books - September 2020, 6-time Best of State Recipient for Best in Literary Arts, 2019 Maggie Award Winner, 4-time Whitney Award Winner, and 2-time Golden Quill Award Winner.
Heather is represented by Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret.
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