In Search of a Name by Marjolijn van Heemstra

D says that a name always fits in the end, that a name is like a leather shoe that forms itself to the foot.

But in my mind, it’s the other way around: a person grows into his name. ~ Marjolijn

Lindsay’s review

An endearing and emotional journey.

I loved the premise of this novel – a woman on a quest to understand the meaning behind a family name being passed down to her unborn child. The novel unfolds through the weekly pregnancy countdown while the mom-to-be searches for the truth of her family’s past. Long hidden secrets are uncovered and whispered family gossip is investigated.

I found it very interesting to follow the main characters path. She wanted to use a family name with history and meaning for her son but yearned to fully understand the history behind the family name first. I strongly connected to her journey through pregnancy and upcoming new motherhood. I thought the author did a phenomenal job sharing those inner thoughts and worries. Marjolijn van Heemstra also shed light on the essence of how alone a woman is in the experience of pregnancy, even with a supportive partner. A partner can only truly experience so much through the woman. Much of it is a deeply personal female experience.

The main part of the family history being investigated surrounds the credibility of the ancestors heroic actions after the war. Differing stories reveal various circumstances that change the outcome. Marjolijn van Heemstra asks some thought provoking questions about the Resistance and shares some insight on how some struggled in letting go after the war ended. When does a war truly end? When does peace actually start? Does one change from a Resistance hero to a criminal in one day? I found the idea of “Resistance psychosis” very interesting — the fear of returning to everyday life after fighting in the Resistance.

Overall, I found this book very thought provoking. It asked some deep and important questions that I enjoyed pondering. It was very well written and unique.

Brenda’s review

In Search of a Name by Marjolijn van Heemstra is a unique story with an intimate look at how the stories we tell and the ones we are told to us by our family exist between truth and fiction.

Writer and the narrator of the story Marjolijn van Heemstra agrees to name her firstborn son after her distant uncle, who was seen as a hero of the Dutch resistance by her family. Now pregnant, she begins to worry about naming her child after someone she knows little about, so she sets out to learn more about the man who was to be “the blueprint for my son.”

As Marjolijn searches for answers the story is told with chapters beginning with a week-by-week countdown to the due date. I enjoyed how this gave a race against time-intense feeling to the story.
The story reads like a memoir, and I should have approached as one as I often get lost in the telling of a story when I expect to be shown. At times I was confused with what was going on, however, this could have been due to translation from Dutch to English.

We also see into Marjolijn’s pregnancy and she is brutally honest about her experience and that does add another interesting dynamics to the story. Some of her decisions in her quest to find answers left me questions some of her actions.

The ending left me with a few unanswered questions and left me wanting more from the story but not from Marjolijn I think this was because this was in a way is a fictionalized memoir. I just made up a new genre. lol

We received copies from the publisher through NG.

1 thought on “In Search of a Name by Marjolijn van Heemstra”

  1. Interesting! I like the journey she takes as she counts down to birthing.
    I like that you make up genres B 😆 makes those reviews more fun to read!


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