Tom Palmer writes meticulously researched historical fiction that always respects both his subject and his young readers; his new novel Resist is a shining example of his care. A book inspired by the teenage years of Hollywood star Audrey Hepburn this powerful story set in WW2 portrays the immense courage and humanity some are capable of in the face of the most unimaginable horror.
In 1943 the Netherlands is occupied by the Nazis and life for the ordinary people is hard and full of fear. Food is scarce and everyone lives with the knowledge that at any moment they could be arrested and sent away for hard labour or worse. Teenager Edda tries to help by volunteering at the local hospital after school but is then prompted by events that affect her immediate family to assist the local resistance movement. Tom Palmer enables us to accompany Edda as her involvement escalates to dangerous missions amidst an increasingly desperate situation for her family, neighbours and friends.
Resist is a compelling read from its opening pages onwards capturing both the darkness of life for those trapped in a Nazi occupied country and the bravery and determination of those who stood up against the invaders. In the first chapter Edda is delivering newsletters on behalf of the resistance and has to negotiate a German checkpoint. It is sometimes tempting to describe a character as being brave or fearless but what we immediately become aware of in Resist is that real courage is doing something extremely dangerous despite being afraid. Edda is terrified but persists in her task. Instantly the reader feels empathy for her and will follow her story wanting her to succeed.
The tension is built up so carefully and well that it would be a shame to give away too much of the plot, however Tom Palmer draws on many of the experiences of the remarkable woman who inspired the book. There is her love of dance, the events involving her mother, a Nazi sympathiser before the war, and the near starvation she experienced included within the story in addition to her work for the resistance. The research, attention to detail and the inclusion of real people gives this book an authenticity. Sometimes ‘historical fiction’ is a story set against an historical background, Resist is history brought to life. The reader is made aware that people in the past were no different to people now and the connections to those who lived before us are made clearer . This is a remarkable story told well and also told with understanding and care of the people involved. Tom Palmer has a knack for conveying great depth of emotion in a few words which I think increases the impact. What he could never have anticipated is that scenes of terrified families hiding in cellars and innocent people fleeing their homes as bombs fall would be repeated in Europe in the year this book is published. This inevitably gives the story an added emotional impact yet this book also provides hope in its portrayal of the power of the human spirit to survive and fight against evil and to protect others from it.
This is historical fiction bringing a different aspect of war to young readers and is a compelling story of an immensely brave teenager who showed strength of character and determination. Inspirational is a word used increasingly to describe people and stories but is apt in this case. It prompted me to research further into the Dutch resistance and Audrey Hepburn’s role in it and I believe it will encourage other readers to do the same. A novel of under two hundred pages this is most definitely a brilliant example of less is more. Long after I turned the final page of this moving and important story I was thinking about Edda, her courage and those she lived and worked alongside.
Resist is published by Barrington Stoke so is expertly produced and edited to ensure it is accessible to all and is part of their Conkers range. Resist is published in August with a stunning cover designed by Tom Clohosy Cole. I should like to thank Tom Palmer, Emma O’Donovan and Barrington Stoke for my proof copy. There will be a range of resources linked to Resist available on Tom’s excellent website so it’s worth keeping an eye out for when these appear. There is already a Cover Prediction Worksheet available to download here which would be a great way of introducing the book. If you are tempted by Resist and can’t wait until August you may like to try one of Tom’s other books which I highly recommend and I’ve reviewed several of them including After the War, Armistice Runner, Arctic Star and D-Day Dog.
Finally Barrington Stoke have produced this trailer below to whet your appetite still further.