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Girl Out Of Place


Based on the true story of a young woman’s journey to find her family and where she belongs following the Japanese occupation during the Second World War in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia).


Girl Out Of Place
by Syl van Duyn

translated by Ernestine Hoegen

A coming-of-age story set during the liberation of Indonesia (formerly the Dutch East Indies). 

At the end of the war, Nell is released from a Japanese internment camp in Java. While searching for her father in the chaos, she meets Tim, a young man who is looking for his family too. Nell’s journey takes her first to Singapore then to a new life and new friends in Sydney, Australia. But although Tim may well be the love of her life, her father puts her on a passenger liner bound for the Netherlands. Will Nell really be able to settle in a country she’s never known – and will she ever see Tim again?

Based on the true story of Nora Valk, this is an exciting tale of courage and friendship, hope and determination, about the search for love and a place to finally call home.

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“I was deeply moved… a beautifully written book …Van Duyn has succeeded in creating characters of flesh and blood.” –

“This compelling novel is based on a true story… the emotions and uncertainty of the adolescent Nell are beautifully expressed in a simple style with plenty of dialogue. The atmospheric descriptions provide an evocative picture of the chaotic times.”

– Elly Bart, Biblion

About the author

Syl van Duyn is author of four Dutch language children’s books: ‘Hallo Aarde, Hier Maan’ (2001), ‘Mijn Zus is een Flussemus’ (2002), ‘Angels’ (2008) and ‘Op zoek naar jou’ (2015), as well as an adult non-fiction book based on the columns she wrote for the Dutch magazine Margriet (‘Een kwetsbaar bestaan’ (2001). She works for the Dutch broadcasting network VPRO, selecting and purchasing documentaries, and lives in Amsterdam.

Translator, Ernestine Hoegen worked as a public prosecutor before turning to writing, translating and editing full-time in 2017. Her biography of Dutchwoman Mieke Bouman (Unieboek | Spectrum) was recently published. She lives near Arnhem.