Study Guide

Hille Babbe in Postcards from No Man's Land

Hille Babbe

Jacob meets seventeen-year-old Hille at his grandpa's grave, when her younger brother Wilfred lays flowers on it. It turns out Hille also put flowers there when she was younger, and she wants to learn all about Jacob's grandpa. So since one of the things Jacob is doing in Amsterdam is learning about his namesake, he shares the deets with her. Soon the two bond over a love for Anne Frank and pancakes.

The two teens quickly fall for one another, perhaps because Hille offers Jacob the position of kissing boyfriend—or she lets him interview for it at least. Her playful ways inject some fun into Jacob's life, but they also make him think. Hille might be fun-loving and ready to act on a whim, but she's also given a lot of thought to what her life will be like—she confesses to Jacob that she's figured out what will happen to her if she ever gets in an accident or is brain-dead.

Her dose of reality and ability to talk about death while still joking and having fun really makes Jacob think. Perhaps he should let go and be less uptight. We think Hille puts it best when she tells him how people should get to know each other:

Maybe we should always start everything from the inside and work to the outside, and not from the outside to the inside. Maybe life would be better that way. What d'you think? (15.25)

Hille says this to him and we don't think she's speaking literally—she's really talking about looking inside someone and figuring out who they are. That's what she wants to do with Jacob, but he's still figuring it out for himself. We think it's a great idea, Hille, and part of why Jacob's lucky to cross your path.