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Caroline Crocker
Brave Face: The Inspiring WWII Memoir of a Dutch/German Child
As the daughter of a Dutch postman and his German wife, five-year-old Meta finds her life totally changed when WWII begins. Meta’s anxiety is exacerbated by der Stiefel, a Nazi soldier who haunts her. Life continues downhill until starvation renders the formerly vivacious child so weak that she doesn’t care if she dies. After the war ends, poverty, prejudice, and PTSD dog her every step, and Meta finds herself unable to pursue her dream of becoming a physician. Should she give in to despair, just put on a brave face, or accept reality and work towards those goals that are still possible?
Affaire de Couer

Pamela Ackerson

****… Life had been good

Reviewed in the United States on February 10, 2023

Life had been good, and typical for a young child before the war. The memories of being bombed haunted her along with the fear she'd endured when the sirens went off. Meta was five years old when WW2 encroached upon their peaceful world, and watched a man get murdered by the Nazi's. It changed her life forever.

When the Netherlands surrendered to Germany, times became much worse. They endured starvation, poverty, and extreme prejudice.

This story takes the reality of yesterday from a different perspective and shows the strength and endurance of the survivors of WW2 and their endless courage to persevere.

Affaire de Coeur Book Review Magazine ~ Lauren Calder

Reader's Favorite

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

Brave Face by I. Caroline Crocker is a memoir that follows the life of Meta during World War II in the Netherlands, describing childhood experiences, family dynamics, and the challenges they faced under German occupation. Meta's family becomes part of the Dutch resistance, aiding Allied pilots and refugees. Meta recounts the resourcefulness of her family during food shortages, their interactions with neighbors and friends, and their endurance through bombings and an unimaginable avalanche of hardship. Meta's personal growth is central as she navigates the complexities of war, her relationship with her family, and her determination to overcome obstacles. Through Meta's journey, Brave Face portrays the impact of war on individuals, the enduring spirit of ordinary people, and the triumph of resilience in the face of adversity.

There is no shortage of fictional accounts of World War II or non- fiction academic texts that try to break down the specifics of it, but every once in a while a first-hand account of those who experienced it on the ground arises. Brave Face: The Inspiring WWII Memoir of a Dutch/German Child by I. Caroline Crocker is one of those stories, and it is both beautiful and heartbreaking. As a parent, I was crushed by what Meta went through, and as someone who also knew poverty and has gone to bed hungry, I empathized. The difference is that economic poverty is not the same as that which comes from enemy occupation or is forced, or where everyone else in an entire area is equally impacted. The standout to me was the survivor's guilt that Meta experienced when the occupation ended but resources were still scarce, and post-war adjustments such as when Meta asks what happens to Jewish survivors who return home only to find their home now belongs to someone else. The writing is clean and effective, and the picture painted is clear. Overall, this is an excellent work of non-fiction that is as inspiring as it promises to be.