DiscoverComing of Age

Girl Out of Place


Worth reading 😎

A coming of age story all about finding your place, your strength and your home.

Girl Out of Place begins at the end of World War 2 and follows 15 year old Nell as she is released from a Japanese prisoner camp in Java along with her aunt. Upon release she starts on a journey with her aunt to find a safe place to stay which takes them to Singapore in search for her father who was also imprisoned during the war in Japan. Inspired by a real story, this is the starting point for a coming of age narrative which shows Nell struggling to find a place to call home as her adventures take her to Australia and the Netherlands too.

I really enjoyed the variety of settings in this story and thought that each location in Nell's journey was depicted really well. The frequent changes to her circumstances made for an engaging and interesting read too, while also showing the impact of this disruption on Nell's sense of belonging.

At the beginning of the story Nell meets a young man called Tim who is on a similar mission to find his family and his home. After an initial intimate encounter, their paths continue to cross throughout the book and we see their romantic relationship develop. I liked the inclusion of this in the story however I felt that Tim could have been more detailed as a character to really bring their relationship to life in the story.

The pacing of this book was fast and there is a lot of action packed into what is actually quite a short book. I did not mind this as it felt fitting for the tone of the story however I did wish the pacing was a bit slower towards the end of the book as quite a few crucial moments in the plot felt glossed over in a race to reach the final conclusion.

Overall this was an enjoyable book and I liked seeing Nell's character growth throughout the book. Starting with typical teenage characteristics we see her change through her experiences and find her voice and strength which enables her to stand up for what she wants out of life and to choose her own place to call home.

Thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Aurora Metro Books for the ARC.

Reviewed by

I have quite a broad taste in books but, in particular, I enjoy reading historical fiction, women's fiction, literary fiction, and classics. I also enjoy some middle grade, romance and contemporary fiction too.


About the author

Syl van Duyn is author of four Dutch language children’s book as well as an adult non-fiction book based on the columns she wrote for the Dutch magazine Margriet (2001). She works for the Dutch broadcasting network VPRO, selecting and purchasing documentaries, and lives in Amsterdam. view profile

Published on September 25, 2020

Published by Aurora Metro Books

60000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Coming of Age

Reviewed by