Only by the Grace of God

Thank you Archway Publishing for sending us this book to review!

Only by the Grace of God tells the true story of the Brink family who lived in the Philippines and became prisoners of war during World War II. Each of the twelve chapters are told from the three perspectives of the children: Bill, Bob, and Pam. Some of the minor details are different in the accounts, but the main events are told in vivid detail. This family went through a lot of suffering and as the title suggests, they only survived by the grace of God.

The beginning of the 212-page book focuses on their life in the Philippines before the war. The Brink family was well-to-do with fancy furniture and servants who cleaned the house, tended to the children, and chauffeured them around. For birthdays, the kids would get nice gifts like a BB gun or a pony. The recollections of the games the kids used to play were both amusing and scary as a parent. I chuckled about the kids getting caught and punished for sling-shooting rocks at the priest’s metal roof. On the flipside, I gasped aloud when I read about the kids re-enacting cowboys and robbers and hanging one of their friends who volunteered to be the prisoner. Luckily, he was taken down in time before anything serious happened.

Once the war began the carefree lives of this family were over. The Japanese soldiers took away their belongings and father. Later they came back and imprisoned the rest of the family. In the internment camps, the family was often together and usually got a couple of meals a day. Towards the end of the war, food was very scarce and approximately three prisoners a day would die from starvation or other devastating illnesses.

During the war the children still received an education and found unique ways to entertain themselves. One amusing method was taking ants from one ant hill to another and enjoying the battle that would ensue. They even managed to scrounge enough parts to build a cart to scoot around in. While there were a lot of negative experiences, there are still some good ones and the family became closer to God in the process. The timing for their miraculous rescue couldn’t have been better.

Besides the mentioning of mischievous behavior, some other topics including homosexuality, prostitution, and minor language should be noted before letting a child read this book. It’s a great recollection of the terrors of war and the hope and faith needed to endure the trials every step of the way. This book sells for $17 on Amazon and is worth picking up. You’ll have a hard time putting it back down.

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