Dutch / Belgium (Flanders)

Het meisje en de soldaat
(The girl and the soldier)

Sax, Aline (text)
De Bode, Ann (illus.)
Wielsbeke: De Eenhoorn, 2013. – 85 p.
ISBN 978-90-5838-842-1

World War I | Blind girl | Soldier | Historical fiction

A blind girl and a black soldier meet at a bench behind the pub owned by the girl’s parents. The trenches of World War I determine the life of the soldier: six days at the front and three days’ rest. The soldier tells the girl about his homeland in Africa, but never mentions what’s going on at the front. One day his place on the bench stays empty and the blind girl sets off to the front to look for him. Aline Sax describes in a beautiful, powerful language the very special connection between the girl and the soldier. They are both nameless  outsiders who have met each other by coincidence. The girl is a good listener, also for the things the soldier doesn’t mention. With their alternating narratives, the soldier and the girl offer different perspectives. When the girl is the narrator the pages are white, when  the soldier tells his story the pages are black.

The sober pictures sketch a portrait of life in wartime. An impressive story about friendship in wartime, with its horrors and mistrust. (Age: 13+)