Study Guide

Postcards from No Man's Land

Postcards from No Man's Land Summary

In Amsterdam, English tourist Jacob finds himself lost and annoyed. He's just been pick-pocketed, confused a guy for a gal, and doesn't have a clue where he is, plus it's raining and he's got no money to get home. Good times. Luckily, he meets a friendly older woman named Alma, who helps him get back home to his friend. He's super grateful, and even spills his secret crush on Anne Frank to her because she's so warm and inviting.

We switch back to fifty years before, in World War II, as a nineteen-year-old girl named Geertrui watches English soldiers parachute into Holland. Everyone knows they are here to liberate the Dutch and they're over the moon, but the excitement is short-lived because the Germans are not willing to give up that easily. They fight off the English soldiers, and soon Geertrui and her parents are fixing up the wounded right in their living room—it's not long before an English soldier named Jacob comes in, with shrapnel all over the place, and Geertrui takes care of him.

In modern-day Amsterdam, Jacob feels more relaxed now that he's caught up with his buddy Daan again. We learn that Daan is actually the grandson of Geertrui, who helped Jacob's grandpa (also called Jacob) during the war. Hmmm… very interesting…

The bad news is that Geertrui is really sick with stomach cancer, and is scheduled to have an assisted death in about a week. Jacob feels bad that Daan has to watch his grandma die, and starts to think he shouldn't be there—but then Daan tells him that Geertrui has a big secret that he'll want to learn, because it involves him too. Wait, what?

Back in war-torn Amsterdam, Geertrui starts to admit her feelings for Jacob when the English troops are going to leave him behind. It's not as mean as it sounds—he's injured, and they could put themselves at risk trying to carry him out of the country.

The Germans are starting to take hold of the city again, though—and it doesn't look good for anyone left behind—so Geertrui, her brother Henk, and his buddy Dirk move Jacob to Dirk's family's farm to hide out. There, Geertrui and Jacob read poems to one another and fall in love. It's no happy ending for them, though, as Jacob suddenly collapses and dies one day while dancing with her. 

She's upset, but things go from bad to worse when she learns she's pregnant. What's a knocked-up unmarried chick to do in those days? She tells Dirk everything and the two of them get married and start a life together. They just leave out the part that the baby—Tessel, a.k.a. Daan's mom—isn't actually Dirk's. 

Back in the modern day, Jacob explores his grandpa's grave and gets all emotional seeing it. He meets Geertrui, and she gives him her memoirs; in it, Jacob learns the truth about his grandpa—that he loved Geertrui, and had a baby with her during the war.

He's understandably shocked and pretty emotional to learn about his Dutch grandma, even more so since he knows she'll die in a couple days; he promises to return to Amsterdam soon to catch up with Daan and Tessel. He's learned a lot about love and relationships while in Amsterdam, and he thinks he could get used to the canals and romance of the city—and the fact that it's home to his favorite author and crush, Anne Frank, is just a bonus.

  • Chapter 1

    Postcard

    • Welcome to Venice of the North, or Amsterdam. Jacob arrives in the city full of bridges and canals and doesn't really know where to go, so he crosses the canal and finds a charming café to hang out in.
    • Jacob might not know it yet, but he's ready for an adventure. What seventeen-year-old isn't, though? He's excited to be in a new city with lots of new things to explore.
    • While he's waiting for the server, Jacob meets a friendly chick named Ton. The two start chatting about the usual stuff: where they're from, what he's doing here, and where he is (we told you he was lost).
    • It turns out this is Jacob's first time to Amsterdam, and he's staying with some family friends. The pair goes on chatting and flirting, teasing each other about their English and Dutch… or lack thereof, since Jacob doesn't know any Dutch.
    • Soon, Ton has to go, but before leaving, she takes Jacob's hand and puts it on her crotch. Jacob's in for a big surprise when what he feels certainly isn't a biological woman at all—he's pretty surprised and confused. Ton kisses Jacob goodbye and heads off, but not before leaving Jacob a little present in his pocket.
    • But that's not Jacob's biggest surprise of the day, because moments after Ton leaves, someone steals Jacob's backpack with all his stuff in it.
    • Immediately, Jacob goes running after the guy who stole it. The thief is wearing a red cap and isn't too far ahead of our tourist, and every now and again, it almost seems like the thief wants to be caught. He almost waits for Jacob to get closer to him before taking off again. Why would someone do that?
    • When Jacob finally gives up on catching the guy, he notices that he's got a condom and a cardboard box of matches in his pocket that he never remembers putting there. Perhaps the pickpocket left a little gift, but why?
    • Inside the box of matches, there's a little scribbled note: "Be ready niets in Amsterdam is wat het lijkt." We can tell you that this roughly translates to something like: "Be prepare. Nothing in Amsterdam is what it appears to be." But Jacob doesn't know that yet. Um, okay.
  • Chapter 2

    Geertrui

    • On a Sunday in September in 1944, British soldiers parachute from the sky into Oosterbeek, Amsterdam. Geertrui and her parents watch as they arrive, sure that this means liberation from the Germans at last.
    • The word spreads pretty quickly that this is what the British are here for, and Geertrui and her family are—of course—excited by the idea. She's just had her nineteenth birthday and her brother Henk and his buddy Dirk are off hiding at Dirk's parents' farm so they don't get sent off to a German labor camp.
    • As Geertrui and her parents await any news—hopefully of freedom—two British officers are outside their door talking to one another. Geertrui and her dad have been studying English so they can talk to the soldiers, but they haven't got it perfect yet.
    • Just then, Geertrui hears one of the officers say he's really thirsty in English and she understands him. She runs to the kitchen and grabs some water to give them, and then opens the door. The men are just as surprised to see her there as she was to understand what they said, but they are super grateful for the water all the same.
    • Introductions all around. Geertrui and her folks meet Max Cordwell and Jacob Todd, the soldiers. Jacob calls her his "angel of mercy" for bringing him water and then asks her to go back inside—it's still dangerous outside.
    • After the soldiers leave, Geertrui, her mom, and dad all twirl around with excitement, saying vrij, which means free.
    • But over the next couple days, the hope and excitement of the soldiers' arrival fades; there's lots of fighting noises and bullets all around.
    • Just then, two soldiers hobble inside Geertrui's home carrying a very badly wounded soldier with them—right away, Geertrui's mom springs into action, getting disinfectant and supplies to help the soldier's wounds.
    • Geertrui's seen wounded soldiers before, but never this up-close, and never in their own home. As her mom works to help the guy, she tells his buddies that he needs surgery now—the only problem is that the other soldiers can't leave their post to take him.
    • Geertrui's dad offers, but this is definitely a two-man job. When Geertrui volunteers, her dad flat-out refuses to hear it—it's way too dangerous.
    • But Geertrui's mom goes to bat on her behalf, until eventually Geertrui's dad gives in; he and Geertrui head out together, pushing the wounded soldier in a trolley to get him to the medic safely.
    • There's commotion everywhere. Geertrui hears fighting and smells gunfire, but she and her dad keep pushing this guy to safely. Once they get back home, her mom makes potatoes and cold pork for the two remaining soldiers: Ron and Norman.
    • They are upstairs keeping watch, and they all decide to go in shifts so the soldiers can get a bit of shut-eye.
    • The fighting continues, and it gets much worse. Geertrui's pad becomes a hiding-place-turned-medic for the soldiers, and she works with her parents to help anyone they can. Sure, they don't have surgical supplies, but they can wash the debris out of a wound or redress it; besides, a lot of these guys just need some mothering and love.
    • Her mom points out to her that now they know what war means. And it ain't pretty.
  • Chapter 3

    Postcard

    • Jacob hasn't been in Amsterdam all that long, but this doesn't stop him from hating it. Let's recap his time there so far: (1) he confused a guy for a girl and flirted with her/him even though he didn't mean to; (2) he lost all his money and stuff to a pickpocket; (3) he's lost… again. Oh, and did we mention it's raining?
    • All in all, it isn't shaping up to be a good day for Jacob—it's what his grandma would call his "mouse mood" days.
    • Why? Jacob thinks back to when he moved in with his grandma, and he saw a mouse under the floorboards. It totally freaked her out, but he was interested in helping the little guy.
    • He put a prod inside the hole where the mouse went, hoping to wiggle it out and release it outside—but instead he poked too hard and killed the little fella. He was in a bad mood after that, which inspired his grandma to call this his "mouse mood."
    • A couple days after the mouse incident, Jacob has a dream about being in a cupboard, or some small space. He sees a small mouse in the corner lying very still and wonders if it's alive, but just then, the mouse changes into a human child with an abnormally large head.
    • Huh? He taps the kid on the head because it freaks him out.
    • Again and again, he hits the child to keep it from coming closer to him, until finally blood comes out of the kid's head, and Jacob hits him again. Yikes.
    • This whole time, the kid's eyes have been closed, but just then, he opens them—the kid is Jacob.
  • Chapter 4

    Postcard

    • Hey, are you okay? A woman calls out to Jacob. Oh, not really, but it's no big deal, Jacob replies.
    • The lady asks what happened to him, and Jacob tells the woman he was mugged, and now doesn't have any money or any way to get back to where he's staying.
    • Poor thing. Luckily for Jacob, this kind stranger decides to call his friend for him to help him get back to where he's staying. She looks up the number in the phonebook for "Van Riet, D" and finds a bunch, but one that lives where Jacob thinks his friend does. There's no answer when she calls, but she writes the phone number and address down for Jacob, and then asks if he wants to grab coffee.
    • Jacob, meet Alma. She's an older woman, and treats Jacob to a coffee while they swap stories.
    • He tells her that he's here because his grandfather was in the Battle of Arnhem and died here; the people who looked after his grandfather (also named Jacob) are the ones he's staying with while he's here—or really her family, he should say. Jacob's in town to visit his grandfather's tombstone.
    • Then Jacob tells Alma the story about the pickpocket. She thinks the guy is not stealing for the money, but for the thrill. Why else would he lure Jacob away and want to be chased so closely? It's exciting.
    • Alma thinks if the guy got away with Jacob's stuff, he won. Oh well. It's no biggie if you think about it because Jacob didn't lose anything important (aside from some cash) and no one got hurt; she'll make sure he gets back to his friend and everything will be well again.
    • Jacob's not sure if he agrees, but he likes listening to Alma. She tells him about the war and how everyone was hungry during de hongerwinter (a.k.a. last winter) before liberation—even the Germans.
    • It was awful, but everyone was in it together then at least. Nowadays, people are just out for themselves. No one helps out other people anymore—that's why she tries to help homeless people or give to others who will benefit.
    • Hmm… Jacob is moved by this. It makes him think about what Anne Frank says about youth and old age. What's that? Youth is way lonelier than old age.
    • When Jacob asks Alma if she thinks this is true, she's not sure—she thinks you've got to know the truth and stick to it. It's easier in some ways when you're old because you've got more time and experience under your belt, so you're more confident about what you believe is true.
    • Alma picks up on the fact that Jacob loves Anne Frank. We're not just talking about her diary, either—although he loves that too—he loves her.
    • He explains to Alma that even though she's just words in a book, he feels he knows her better than some of his friends; he's in love with the person she is. Yikes. He can't believe he just admitted that to her. She must think he's lost his marbles.
    • Alma comforts Jacob in a sweet way. Love is always crazy, isn't it?
    • Again she calls Jacob's friend and he's home this time. She figures out the best way to get Jacob back and pays for his journey there too.
    • Jacob is touched by her kindness, and thanks her a bunch. Before he leaves, he shows her the matchbox with the cryptic message inside: "Be ready niets in Amsterdam is wat het lijkt."
    • She translates it for him: "Be prepare. Nothing in Amsterdam is what it appears to be." It's then that Jacob realizes that this was true of Ton at least, who offered more than met the eye.
    • As Jacob runs off to the bathroom, Alma writes her own little message for him on a napkin. This one reads, "Waar een wil is, is een weg." Translation? "Where there is a will, there's a way."
  • Chapter 5

    Geertrui

    • Late on Wednesday, after a bombardment, a man is found in the garden of Geertrui's house. The men bring him downstairs to the cellar, where Geertrui and her mom try to help the banged-up soldier; he's got a deep cut on his head, and another bad one on his right leg.
    • One of the soldiers brings an orderly over, who explains what must have happened. He was probably near an explosive and got hit from flying shrapnel. He's lucky though—he's nowhere near as bad as some of the others.
    • The medic tells them to dress the wound and be careful when he wakes up—he could be dazed and confused to say the least.
    • Half an hour later, Geertrui and her mom are still cleaning the poor guy's wounds when they recognize the soldier. It's Jacob—that guy they gave water to on Sunday. Geertrui remembers he called her an angel of mercy then, and her mom points out just how prophetic that was.
    • They clean him up and when they get to his underwear, Geertrui looks away. Oh she wants to look, to explore what she's never seen before, but she thinks she's supposed to look away for whatever reason; her mom tells her she's left her childhood behind now.
    • Over the next four days, the fighting gets worse. More and more soldiers get brought to the cellar to be cleaned up, and each time, Geertrui and her mom try to do whatever they can to help.
    • She's still trying to perfect her English, so she and her dad say a bunch of common phrases in English to each other like "come what may" and "all things come to he who waits." The British soldiers hear this and join in, and suddenly everyone is laughing and having a good time, repeating all of these familiar sayings.
    • Geertrui's mom doesn't know a lick of English, so she's not really sure what's happening, but everyone else is cracking up.
    • Just then, Sam starts crying and everyone stops laughing. Then he says, calmly, eerily, "'I have desired to go where springs not fail, to fields where flies no sharp and sided hail and a few lilies blow. And I have asked to be where no storms come, where the green swell is in the havens dumb, and out of the swing of the sea."
    • (Psst… This is from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins called "Heaven-Haven," that's about finding happiness in the world without anything—you know, just like the soldiers are trying to do during the war.)
    • Geertrui is floored by these beautiful words, and she lets us in on a secret: Jacob taught her this was a poem later on, and she's treasured it ever since. Yep, that's foreshadowing.
    • In the silence after Sam's impromptu poetry reading, everyone hears a muffled voice. It's Jacob—he's awake and Geertrui goes over to him to tell him what's happened.
    • The next day, the soldiers are ordered to leave because their run-in with the Germans didn't go as planned. The British soldiers fought really hard and kept the Germans off for four days, but eventually, they were overtaken. Anyone who could was to roll out.
    • At first, everyone was optimistic, but now that they've received these orders, all the soldiers re pretty bummed—this isn't good news.
    • Geertrui thinks about how Ron died trying to protect their home, and how they aren't going to be liberated now like they originally thought.
    • Jacob tries to convince the men that he can go along with them, but in reality, he knows he can't—he can't even put weight on his leg, let alone run away from an enemy or swim across a river. He's down, but he'll stay behind and try to fight off the Germans as the other men escape.
    • Of course, Geertrui is angry about this. How can Jacob be okay with staying behind and dying? Why doesn't anyone do anything?
    • Her mom scolds her, pointing out that they've done everything they know how to do.
  • Chapter 6

    Postcard

    • Rain, rain, go away, come again another day. It's pouring by the time Jacob gets to the railway station where he's supposed to get off to go to his friend Daan's house.
    • He makes a pit stop to get a flower to take with him, mainly so he can ask for some paper to cover his head; plus his grandma always told him not to show up empty-handed in Holland. Never mind that he was pickpocketed—he'll use some of the coins that Alma gave him.
    • He gets to Daan's house, which used to be a warehouse right by a canal; it's large and beautiful. Before, he was staying with Daan's parents who live over in Harlem, outside of Amsterdam, but Daan's place is more central, plus it's full of exotic tiles and large, bright windows. How does a university student like Daan afford this? The truth is, he doesn't—it's actually his grandma Geertrui's place, but she's in a nursing home now.
    • As Daan and Jacob eat lunch, the pair reminisce about when Daan and his family came to visit Jacob's family in England. Jacob doesn't remember it well because he was only five, but Daan was twelve, so he remembers Jacob and his dad getting in a big fight and then his grandma spoiling Jacob anyway.
    • The two laugh and get along pretty easily, but every now and again, they have a couple language blunders, like when Jacob says something is funny when he means weird or interesting. Daan doesn't really get how furniture could be a laugh-out-loud comedian.
    • Then the conversation switches to something darker. It turns out Daan and his mom Tessel didn't even know Jacob was coming until a couple days ago. Geertrui invited Jacob through his grandma Sarah—she couldn't come because she hurt herself, so Jacob came instead.
    • The only issue is that neither Sarah nor Jacob knew Geertrui was sick in a nursing home. In fact, she's got an incurable disease and won't live too much longer. No one knew Jacob was even coming, and well… they're not really that up to taking care of him since they want to spend time with Geertrui.
    • Awkward. Jacob starts to feel really uncomfortable. If no one knew he was coming, and they've got other things going on, perhaps he should just leave; he's starting to feel like an intruder.
    • Daan insists he stay, though, partially because he really needs to hear the whole story, since it involves Jacob too.
    • Wait, what?
    • Jacob is totally confused about how something with Geertrui could involve him at all. Daan's lips are sealed, though, since he promised his mom he wouldn't say anymore—looks like Jacob will just have to wait until later to find out.
    • Jacob's really ticked off. He hates when people know something and don't tell him. Looking at Alma's message again, he write below it, "Nothing ventured, noting gained."
  • Chapter 7

    Geertrui

    • The day of the withdrawal of the troops, Henk and his pal Dirk return. Everyone is shocked at first, so no one knows what to do—hugging ensues.
    • Geertrui and her parents are so excited to see both of the boys. One of the English soldiers gives them a chocolate bar he'd been saving for something special—if this reunion isn't special, he doesn't know what is.
    • After the celebration has died down, Henk tells them why they've come back: they think Geertrui should come with them to the farm and hide out. The English are leaving soon, and when they do, the Germans won't be kind to anyone who helped them—like their family. It won't be a good time to stick around out in the open.
    • Immediately, their dad says Geertrui can't go with them, and that's final.
    • But Henk protests—it's not safe for Geertrui here, and she needs to leave. Of course, no one asks Geertrui what she thinks, which makes her agitated—so when she finally chimes in, she gets annoyed at her family for not asking her what she wants. It is her life, after all.
    • She wants to go with Henk and Dirk, but she doesn't feel right about leaving Jacob. Who?
    • Everyone is really confused. Why should she care about leaving him? Who is he to her?
    • Geertrui delivers a big, heart-felt speech about how they celebrated when Jacob and his comrades came to liberate them, and how she's taken care of Jacob and nursed him back to health. He's like family to her now, and she doesn't want to leave him.
    • There's silence, then shock—no one knew she felt all this.
    • Dirk finally chimes in that there is another option: they take Jacob with them to the farm. Everyone agrees this will be risky, but he'll have a better chance of making it alone there with a gun after all his buddies leave. They decide this is the best plan, but then Henk points out Jacob might not want to go with them.
    • Geertrui goes over and explains what's happening to Jacob. At first, he protests, but then he gives in when he realizes Geertrui's being serious.
    • The plan is all set. Henk, Dirk, Jacob, and Geertrui will all leave at 8:50PM that night into the woods; hopefully they'll be able to make it to Dirk's parents' farm without anyone noticing them.
    • It's time to go, and no one really wants to say goodbye. There's some awkward laughs and gift-giving of a box of matches or a badge, mainly because that's all they have; Sam gives Geertrui a book of poems that he says will help her with her English.
    • Geertrui tells us this is the last time she saw her dad. If she had known that then, she wouldn't have left—it would have been too sad.
  • Chapter 8

    Postcard

    • In a gallery, Daan tells Jacob to open his eyes; he's blindfolded him up until this point because he wants to show Jacob something special.
    • When Jacob opens up, he sees himself—but painted in a portrait in the museum. How can this be?
    • Daan tells him that it's actually a portrait of Titus van Rijn. Wait, isn't that Daan's last name too?
    • Fun fact: we bet you've heard of another van Rijn too—he goes by the name of Rembrandt, and he painted the portrait of his son, Titus, back in 1660 when Titus was nineteen.
    • Jacob is mesmerized by the painting, not because it's particularly noteworthy or anything—in fact, most people haven't even stopped to notice it—but because there's something magical and special about the portrait that Jacob can't quite put his finger on. It looks so much like him.
    • There's another portrait of Titus when he's a little older, and then another one older than that. It's like looking in a mirror for Jacob—you know, if mirrors could show you what you'd look like when you're older. (Um… that would be really cool.)
    • While the pair take a look at these paintings, Daan tells Jacob about Rembrandt's relationship with his father and son. Titus tried painting but didn't have his dad's mad skills, but he loved sitting for him anyway.
    • Daan thinks about how Geertrui says love is observing another person and being observed by that person with complete attention—this makes Daan think Rembrandt and his kid loved each other very much.
    • Titus eventually died of the plague, and a year later Rembrandt died too, probably from a broken heart.
    • As the boys are talking, Jacob gets closer and closer to the painting, until the guard comes over and tells him to back up. Daan thinks this is because someone kissed Titus recently. Yep, you read that right: someone walked up and planted a big old smacker on the portrait. Now everyone's a little touchy over people getting too close.
    • They turn to leave, and Daan starts singing a poem by a Dutch poet named Bram Vermeulen. It goes like this: "Mijn hele leven zocht ik jou, om—eindelijk gevonden—te weten wat eenzaam is." Not sure what that means? We've got you covered. Here's how it goes in English: "I've spent my life looking for you, only to learn, now I have found you at last, the meaning of solitude."
  • Chapter 9

    Postcard

    • Daan gets off the phone with his mom with the news that Geertrui was difficult to deal with all day; she kept asking where Jacob was, and wants to see him.
    • Jacob still feels out of place. Maybe he should just go home, he says, but Daan won't allow it because Jacob's going to see Geertrui tomorrow—he can't leave now.
    • Okay, okay, but Jacob's still not sure why he's got to be there anyway if no one wants him there.
    • At 6:00PM, Daan goes and opens a bottle of white wine, just like Geertrui always did at this time; he explains to Jacob why everyone is so on edge (well, at least part of the reason why).
    • Geertrui has stomach cancer, and it's terminal. She only has a few weeks more at most, and she's in a lot of pain—the doctors say it's worse than torture, and it's only going to get worse.
    • So she's decided she doesn't want to stick around until the end. Why should she live out her final hours in pain, hopped up on painkillers, in a hospital?
    • This decision didn't come easily for her family. They disagree about whether it's best, but Geertrui's already done all the paperwork for it—she will die in nine days with the help of the doctor. It's legal in Holland as long as all the paperwork is in order.
    • Jacob is shocked; he and his grandma didn't even know Geertrui was sick, let alone dying in a little over a week.
    • He'd heard about euthanasia before, and even debated it in school, but it is different talking to someone who was actually a part of experiencing it.
    • All of a sudden, Jacob starts crying. Daan tells him Geertrui wouldn't want him to cry, and tries to comfort him.
    • But that's not what Jacob's crying for—he's crying because he's alive.
  • Chapter 10

    Geertrui

    • On the way to Dirk's farm, he kills a German solider. Geertrui gets that this is necessary, but she also regrets it because she thinks there's already been enough killing in the war. Why does anyone have to die?
    • As she goes on, Geertrui thinks about how much staying alive really just comes down to luck. Sure they are careful as they can be, but it's lucky the German didn't shoot one of them first, or they didn't get hit by an explosion or a British soldier accidentally—it's all only luck.
    • When they finally get to the farm, Jacob is in a bad way; he's almost unconscious from all the pain, and he needs rest. They get him inside and give him some food, but they are so exhausted that Geertrui and Jacob fall asleep until the next morning.
    • When she wakes up, Geertrui learns what they will all do. Dirk's parents (Mr. and Mrs. Wesseling) aren't too happy about housing a British solider; they want to help the kid out, but they're afraid of what will happen if they are found out.
    • They decide that Dirk and Henk must stay out in the hiding place in the gallery of the cowhouse attached to the main house—it is pretty well covered with hay, so no one can find it unless they know to look for it, or are tipped off.
    • There's room enough in there for a couple of beds and space for them to hide, so no one sees the boys roaming around the farm. If they get caught, they'll be sent to a German labor camp… or worse.
    • Luckily, Geertrui can stay in the house with the Wesselings since she is a family friend who has proper papers—it probably won't be too suspicious.
    • But then there is Jacob, a British soldier who just shouldn't be there; he can't go in the hiding place because he's too weak and unable to walk yet.
    • So they decide that Jacob can stay in one of the bedrooms in the house for a couple days, and hopefully he'll be able to walk soon—they'll run into big trouble if the Germans find him there though, so hopefully none will come knocking for a couple days.
    • While there, Geertrui dutifully works on the farm and takes care of Jacob. Mrs. Wesseling makes it abundantly clear that she's got to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to taking care of him, and she also tells Geertrui that she's not good enough to marry Dirk. Okay, lady, whatever you say.
    • We get a little backstory while at the farm: Dirk is head-over-heels for Geertrui, but she's not sure if she's into him; his mom wants to make sure it stays this way.
    • In the morning, Geertrui goes in to wake Jacob up with a bowl of coffee and a cheerful song. Quickly, it becomes their morning ritual—she sings to him and brings him coffee, while he waits for her to wake up. Even when he's already awake when she gets there, he pretends to be asleep so they can go through their little thing together. Aw…
  • Chapter 11

    Postcard

    • Daan can tell Jacob is upset, so he takes him to a café so he doesn't have to be alone—he's had to deal with a lot and doesn't want to leave him now.
    • One of Daan's friends comes over and says hi to them before quickly leaving, and then Ton appears. Oh no… Ton and Daan know one another, so that means Jacob has to fess up to mistaking Ton for a girl.
    • Daan gets a kick out of this, especially since Ton is short for Antony. Just then, Jacob thinks back to that kiss from Ton and gets excited just thinking about it—he pushes the thought from his mind though, since Ton is coming over to them.
    • When Ton arrives, they chit-chat for a little while, until Ton asks Jacob if he's had a chance to use that rubber gift (read: condom) that he left before. Um, not so much, Jacob confesses.
    • Ton jokes that maybe they should do something about that. They talk for a little while longer, and Jacob figures out that Ton and Dan know each other well. Then Jacob lowers the bomb: is Ton gay?
    • Yes, sir—Ton readily admits it and even teases Jacob about picking him up earlier when they first met; Jacob's not sure if that's exactly the way it happened, but okay.
    • Ton blames himself for Jacob getting mugged. He could tell Jacob was naïve and didn't know much about the city, and now he wishes he would have stuck around to make sure nothing like that happened.
    • Still, Jacob doesn't think that. There was nothing Ton could have done anyway, and now that he thinks about it, it's not really that bad. At least his passport didn't get stolen… just a couple bucks and some of his stuff.
    • Ton never trusts people and is always watching out for what others are doing; he says it's because he's gay and not everyone takes kindly to that. As he's talking, he caresses Jacob's face.
    • There's some flirtatious banter between the two of them and Jacob seems to like it, but then he's confused. He's not really sure what—or who—he wants.
    • Jacob thinks back to when he moved into his grandma's place and back to that poem at the museum ("I've spent my life looking for you, only to learn, now I have found you at last, the meaning of solitude"). Now he feels like just that poem—he's just not sure how he wants to live.
    • Ton gives Jacob a quick kiss on the lips before leaving.
  • Chapter 12

    Postcard

    • All aboard. Jacob and Daan are on the train heading out to Geertrui's nursing home. On the way there, Jacob looks out the window and thinks about how people told him Holland was boring before he left. He doesn't get that impression at all though, and he questions what it is to really know something—to know yourself.
    • In fact, he's had some good times since arriving—meeting Ton, Alma, and seeing the paintings of Titus. Amsterdam really isn't so bad after all.
    • As they ride, Daan reads the newspaper, and then announces that they won't stay at the nursing home long; it will tire Geertrui out and it'll make Jacob too upset. This hits a nerve with Jacob—he can handle seeing her just as much as Daan can, thank you very much.
    • When they get there, the nursing home is much larger than he thought it would be. Daan introduces him to Geertrui and quickly leaves so the two of them can be alone.
    • Jacob's nervous and he's not sure how to behave. Geertrui tells him he's got his grandpa's eyes and smile, and says there's something about his nature that's like his grandpa too.
    • Geertrui asks him why he doesn't live with his parents, and Jacob gets into one big old story. He's never gotten on that well with his dad, and his grandma—Sarah—always loved him a bunch.
    • His dad thinks Sarah idolizes his grandpa Jacob way too much and it isn't realistic or healthy; when Jacob was born, Sarah insisted they name him after his grandfather.
    • Anyway, one day when Jacob was fourteen, his mom had to have a big operation and she was out of the house for weeks—she usually helped balance he and his dad out, but with her being gone, they started butting heads more.
    • So he moved in with his grandma until his mom was supposed to come home, and then he just never left.
    • Once the story is over, Geertrui looks him in the eye and asks if he's forgiven his dad, and if he's happy to be alive.
    • Jacob isn't really sure what he would forgive his dad for but he thinks he's happy to be alive. Well… sometimes he's not, like when he's in one of his mouse moods, but usually he is.
    • This gets a chuckle from Geertrui. Then she asks if he understands why she will die next week. He says he gets it, though he's not sure if he would do the same thing.
    • Aha—Geertrui points out he must be happy to be alive then, or why else would he care about dying?
    • It's clear Geertrui's in a lot of pain, and that Jacob must leave her soon. She asks him two questions: (1) Can he come back after he visits his grandfather's grave tomorrow? She wants to give him something. (2) Will he read her something from her book of poems?
    • We're betting you guess it, but Jacob says yes to both questions.
    • He picks a poem by Ben Jonson to read, called "It Is Not Growing Like a Tree."
  • Chapter 13

    Geertrui

    • When we check back in with Geertrui, she warns us that her happy time is about to come to an end. One morning, when she is still in bed, Dirk shouts out for all of them to hear: "Germans!"
    • They spring into action, knowing they must move Jacob quickly, but they're not sure where to—or how to—before the Germans get there.
    • There isn't enough time to get Jacob down to the hiding place, so Mrs. Wesseling decides to keep him in the bed and have Geertrui climb on top of him. If they remain perfectly still and keep a lot of pillows and blankets around, maybe no one will know.
    • Just before leaving, Mrs. Wesseling tells Geertrui to act sick. Next time she comes in, it's with a German officer, and she's telling him all about how Geertrui has tuberculosis—poor thing won't make it, she tells the officer.
    • He scrams. He doesn't want to get sick, and Mrs. Wesseling follows after him to keep him moving throughout the house. Geertrui and Jacob must stay perfectly still until the Germans are gone, just in case they come back in for a second look.
    • Geertrui is nervous and tries to remain calm. She takes a few deep breaths and then realizes that Jacob is excited that she's on top of him. She's not sure how to respond, or what to think, but she knows his body stirred when she jumped in the bed.
    • Phew—the Germans are gone. They decide it would be best for everyone if Jacob went down to the hiding place with the other boys now; that was just too close.
    • Geertrui gets sad when Jacob leaves the main house. Sure, he's not that far away, and she still sees him often, but now he's one of the guys—they don't have their private moments anymore, reading poetry from Sam's book and hanging out, just the two of them.
    • Now he's always teasing her like the other boys. What's worse though, is that she doesn't have anyone to talk to about all this—it's not like any of her friends are around, and Mrs. Wesseling isn't exactly warm and fuzzy.
    • For two weeks it's like this, and she can tell the boys are getting antsy as well; they're cooped up in a tiny space together, unable to do anything for fear of being found out.
    • Dirk thinks they should go and help the Resistance. He doesn't want to stay locked in a barn this whole time, and he thinks Henk should go with him, but Mrs. Wesseling pleaded with her son not to do anything rash.
    • One day, German officers come to the house again. This time, they are searching for any young man to come and work for them. Luckily all three of the boys were in their hiding place already, but still—it was scary.
    • They told the Wesselings they would give up their search if they got some fresh food. Since it's a working farm, there were eggs and cheese—all kinds of things that aren't available anywhere else. Since they don't want their son and the other boys to be found, they Wesselings gave them a sack full of stuff.
    • Once they finally leave, Dirk flipped his lid—he can't believe his parents would give food to Germans. They try to explain to him that it was just so everyone could be safe, but Dirk doesn't agree; he's adamant it's not worth it.
    • The next day, Dirk and Henk are gone, and a note is left in their place. Henk wrote it to Geertrui, explaining that the Germans will likely raid the farm and they should be far away helping the Allies when that happens. He's sorry he didn't say goodbye, but he couldn't bear the thought of her crying.
    • He tells her to get out of there as soon as Jacob is better. At the bottom, Dirk wrote her a message too—it says: "I carry you in my heart. All my love, Dirk." Tear.
  • Chapter 14

    Postcard

    • It's the day of the remembrance service at Oosterbeek cemetery, and Tessel is going to pick Jacob up soon to take him there; they meet up and take the train to Utrecht, and then to Oosterbeek.
    • Note: throughout this chapter, we get some diary entries from soldiers at the battle, tossed in with Jacob's own experience of going to the cemetery.
    • On the way, Jacob and Tessel talk, and again, Jacob gets the notion that she doesn't like him all that much—or maybe it's just that she's somewhat skeptical of him. Either way, she asks him questions about his time here and his family.
    • She tells him that yesterday, soldiers from the original battle parachuted onto the same fields as they did in 1944. They each paired up with a younger soldier to make sure nothing went wrong, but it was all still pretty remarkable.
    • Jacob thinks this is amazing too, and Tessel remembers her mom telling the story of watching all the parachutes in the sky on that day; she's surprised Geertrui didn't tell him when he visited her.
    • Then the conversation switches to—what else?—Geertrui's death. Tessel apologizes for not taking care of him better, but it's been a really hard time for them, with Geertrui dying soon and all.
    • When Tessel asks him if he knows a lot about the battle, Jacob answers that he knows some—he's read up on it a bit, and one of his favorites is an account from one of the soldiers who was there. He wasn't high ranking or anything, just a regular soldier, much like his grandfather would have been.
    • That's interesting, Tessel replies. She's never read about it because she heard so much from her mom.
    • Jacob brings up the idea of Anne Frank's diary. He thinks it's cool to read about a war, but it's even better to read about what was happening from the people's perspective when it was happening—it makes it seem more realistic.
    • He wishes he had that from his grandpa. He wants to know what it was actually like from his eyes, not just what he's heard from his grandma.
    • Tessel agrees. She thinks memory is a weird thing because it all comes down to how you want to remember it, instead of how things actually happened. But if you have letters or a diary from when an event was actually taking place, it's more authentic.
    • This makes Jacob think of what his dad always says to his grandma about his grandpa: There's no way he was as amazing as you're making him out to be, because no one is that perfect.
    • When they arrive at Oosterbeek, they take the steps to the road, turn left, and come upon the large cemetery. Jacob's surprised by how many people are there, and even more surprised by how he feels.
    • Jacob's known about his grandfather's death for a long time, and he's even seen pictures of his grave, but he's never really had to confront it like this. There, standing in front of his grandfather's dead body (in the grave, of course), he realizes this is the real deal, not just a photo of it.
    • The service begins, and a clergyman speaks in English, and another one in Dutch. People pray and sing hymns, but Jacob can't take his eyes off of the children who place flowers on each of the graves.
    • No one speaks at first, but eventually people go back to their every day conversations.
    • When the service is over, Jacob decides he wants to get a photo of the child who put flowers on his grandpa's grave. He rushes over there and asks the teenage boy if he can, and the youngster—named Wilfred—gladly agrees. Then his sister Hille comes over and says she put the flowers on there one time too, back when she was her brother's age.
    • They chat for a little while about his grandfather, and both of them are interested in learning more about the J. Todd they've left flowers for. Jacob explains that his name is the same, and suddenly thinks about the fact that he shares his grandfather's name—the one on the tombstone right in front of him.
    • When Hille offhandedly quotes Anne Frank to him, Jacob stops in his tracks—he loves Anne Frank and now this girl does too? This is too good to be true; Hille and Jacob immediately bond over Anne Frank.
    • Hille remembers when Anne Frank talks about childbirth taking a lot of courage and bravery. Wait a minute… Jacob's read that book many times and he doesn't remember that part at all. That's when Hille tells him that there are some sections that were taken out of the book when it was printed in English—if he wants the whole story, he's got to read the Dutch version.
    • Right away, Jacob knows he has to get his hands on that book. Could there be more to this woman that he loves that he never knew?
    • Hille and Jacob want to grab a coffee to get to know each other better, but he doesn't want to ditch Tessel. It's no worries for Tessel, though, who says she's happy to go home now anyway, or back to Geertrui's, as long as Jacob can find his way back by himself.
    • It's all settled then. Hille and Jacob start talking and walking, and Jacob notes that Hille and her bro look a lot alike.
    • Hille's always thought it's funny when people say that because he's actually adopted. Somehow, they do look alike though.
    • They couple keep talking and laughing, and he feels at ease with his new friend.
  • Chapter 15

    Geertrui

    • Poor Mrs. Wesseling. We feel for her, because not only did her only son take off in the middle of the night without saying goodbye, he probably doesn't have a good chance of surviving out there with just Henk and no back-up.
    • She seems to be well aware of this, which is why she doesn't leave her room for days after he leaves. She's worried, hurt, upset, angry… a whole mixed bag of emotions.
    • Mrs. Wesseling only finds comfort listening to music, and Geertrui fills us in on the fact that she does this until she dies much later in life.
    • Back to the present day, Geertrui tells us that Mr. Wesseling copes better than his wife. He's definitely upset about their son running off, but he knows why he did it. Plus, Henk and Dirk are resourceful, and they want to do their part.
    • The only good thing about life on the farm for Geertrui is Jacob. He's relied on her to take care of him physically, and now she relies on him for emotional support—she's worried about her brother and everything that's happening, so to have him around was such an encouragement to her.
    • Jacob sees that Geertrui is distraught, so he takes her hands in his; she's surprised by such an intimate gesture. Now we know what you're thinking: hasn't she bathed this guy's wounds when he's naked?
    • The answer is yes, but she explains that all of that was when he was her patient—this is a moment between the two of them without any of that. They hold hands just for them.
    • It's the first time they really touch one another this way. They don't kiss or do anything other than hold hands, but it is so intimate, so sincere, that it really strikes a chord for Geertrui.
    • The next day, Geertrui goes about her normal duties: taking Jacob food, changing his bandages, and doing her chores—but she gets nervous and excited around Jacob. She's not sure if she can even look him in the eye, and she doesn't know what he thinks either.
    • For the first time around Jacob, she feels unsure of herself, flushed and anxious; she quickly does her chores around him and leaves so he won't notice.
    • Geertrui thinks about what she wants. She knows that she loves Jacob and wants to be with him, but she wonders what will happen if she gives up her v-card to him.
    • What if she gets knocked up? What if they get caught? Will she be able to live with the consequences?
    • She thinks about this and decides: yes. She wants to be with Jacob, no matter what. She uses an excuse to take a bath (since they didn't bathe as often back then) and then goes to Jacob.
  • Chapter 16

    Postcard

    • Whether you call them pannenkoek, crepes, flapjacks, or pancakes (and they call them all of those), it doesn't really matter: the point is that they are delicious. Jacob and Hille sit down to have pancakes together at a café and talk about all the times people say something is Dutch—going Dutch, a Dutch uncle, Dutch courage, Dutch oven—you get the idea.
    • The name of the café-turned-pub-mixed-with-a-restaurant is Hotel Schoonoord, after the hospital that was used to treat soldiers.
    • Hille pays for Jacob's food in exchange for some good stories about Jacob and his grandfather—she wants to know all about them.
    • The two laugh and practice their languages by writing things in syrup that the other one says; after a while, they're laughing just because.
    • Suddenly, Hille tells him that she feels really comfortable around him and feels like she's known him forever, even though they just met. He feels the same way.
    • They hold hands and then she asks him to tell her more about him, staring with his insides and working his way out.
    • Sometimes it feels like you're just supposed to meet someone, and that's definitely how these two feel about each other.
    • Naturally, since they're both Anne Frank fans, conversation turns back to everybody's favorite diary-writer. They think about the first time she kissed Peter. Ahem… hint, hint.
    • Unsurprisingly, Jacob asks Hille if she has a boyfriend, and as luck would have it, it turns out she does not. She used to and he was charming and sweet and everything, but… she just got bored with it after a while.
    • The position of kisser is currently open in her life. Maybe Jacob would like to apply?
    • Hmm… first he's got to find out about her a little more. Just kidding. They kiss and joke around a little more, before they start talking about Geertrui—Jacob wants to know what Hille thinks of assisted death.
    • She tells him she's known people with loved ones who've done it before, and it's really hard. It hurts them later in ways they didn't imagine, but she also gets someone's right to die with dignity at their own time.
    • One thing's for sure: Hille thinks everyone should decide before they get old and sick what they want to happen to them. Everyone should get to choose for themselves, so it's not so hard on the families.
    • Eventually the couple heads over to the train station, holding hands, comfortable with each other. As they are about to leave each other, Hille writes down her digits for Jacob, and he gives her another kiss.
  • Chapter 17

    Geertrui

    • In the nights that followed Geertrui's first night with Jacob, she has the best time of her life—those six weeks are the highlight that she will think about when she dies, she says.
    • Mrs. Wesseling finally comes out of her room after ten days and goes to church. No one speaks of her withdrawal or detachment from everyone else, but Geertrui knows she just isn't the same. No longer does she pick on Geertrui for doing things wrong, or make comments about everything—she is resigned to her life, so much that Geertrui even feels sorry for her.
    • Meanwhile, the war comes closer and closer to their doorstep. They hear about towns being raided and all the men taken away; there is nothing left for the soldiers to take in most places.
    • This and the work on the farm are all they can focus on during the day, but at night, Geertrui sneaks away to Jacob and the two of them talk and well, you know—some nights they do more than just talk.
    • Geertrui and Jacob read Sam's book of poems together and swap stories about growing up and their lives before they met.
    • They are scared Jacob will be found and taken away (or worse), but they live in the moment, loving their time together because they know they might not get much more.
    • On the first sunny morning in two weeks, the couple starts dancing together outside. They are happy, carefree, and loving life, when—very suddenly—Jacob drops to the ground. Geertrui asks him to get up, to quit it, but he doesn't, or he can't, because he's dead.
    • It seems so unfair to Geertrui, after all they've been through together, for him to die on her now. Mr. and Mrs. Wesseling come out to see what's wrong and figure he must have had a heart attack; they know they have to bury Jacob's body so no one finds it.
    • Geertrui is distraught and devastated, but she helps get him ready to be buried.
    • The next morning, Mr. Wesseling digs a hole in the corner of the garden and they bury him there. Geertrui knows they've got to get back to work—to life—so no one suspects anything, but she's numb with pain.
    • Geertrui sends Jacob's belongings home to Sarah, his wife—all except for three small things, which she will tell us about later.
    • She reads a poem aloud from Sam's book: one by Ben Jonson called "It Is Not Growing Like a Tree." Ahem: this is the same one the young Jacob reads to the old Geertrui in the nursing home.
  • Chapter 18

    Postcard

    • The next morning, Jacob doesn't wake up until 10:30AM, and even then, it's only to pee. After he does, he thinks of Hille and then relieves himself of something else as well—he feels happy and free for the first time since getting to Holland.
    • He catches himself in the mirror and is pretty pleased with what he sees. He figures he should give himself some more pleasure, but he should probably get a snack first, so he makes his way to the kitchen.
    • There, he sees a note from Daan. It says that he's gone to see Geertrui and Jacob should go tomorrow. For right now though, Jacob should just relax and make himself at home. Oh—and Ton would be happy to hear from Jacob if he's interested.
    • Jacob is happy to have some time to himself, so he makes breakfast and then writes to Hille about becoming her kissing-boyfriend, as he calls it. Is there another kind?
    • He also writes to his grandma, Sarah, and tells her about how his trip is going.
    • After writing to her, Jacob calls Ton and asks if he wants to meet up—he's never mailed anything here before, and well, with his track record of getting lost and pickpocketed, he'd love some guidance.
    • Ton says he'd love to meet up, and he'll swing by at 2:00PM with a surprise for Jacob with no legs.
    • When Ton gets there, the surprise is a boat. The two go sailing along the canals and make their way over to—yup—Anne Frank's place.
    • Jacob is relaxed and having a great time out on the water. He admits to Ton that he might be falling for Amsterdam—he wasn't that into it at first, but he loves the canals and bridges now.
    • Ton is pleased and starts telling Jacob all about his family. He comes from a Catholic family of two sisters and four brothers, with a homophobic dad and a loving mom. His dad doesn't like him all that much, so they never really talk, but he gets together with his mom every three or four weeks.
    • This starts up a conversation about marriage. Ton thinks nothing is forever, and people should be together when they want, and not pretend to commit to something they can't.
    • Jacob recognizes where they are—at Alma's place—so he asks Ton if they can stop so he can go in and thank her for rescuing him the other day.
    • He buys her some flowers and chocolates, and she is very pleased to see him. When he tries to give her back the money she gave him, she flat-out refuses, insisting he keep it because she likes helping people.
    • Then she asks him if he will come and have coffee with her sometime before he leaves, and he agrees.
    • Back with Ton, Jacob enjoys riding around the canals, taking in the sights. It feels like he and Ton must have been friends in another life, and he likes the idea.
  • Chapter 19

    Geertrui

    • It's been two months since Jacob's death, and Geertrui is pregnant. She hasn't told anyone yet, because she's not sure what she would say, or how they would react.
    • She's heard of women being forced to give up their baby and never being allowed to even look at it, and she knows she won't let Jacob's baby go through that—this baby is the only part of Jacob she's got left, and she won't be separated from it.
    • Alone in her new sanctuary—the hiding place where she spent so much time with Jacob—Geertrui thinks about what she should do. Then she hears someone climbing the ladder to where she is, and knows it's not Mr. or Mrs. Wesseling since they never go there.
    • It's Dirk. Phew. He's back and glad to see her. When she asks him where Henk is, he says he thought Henk would be here already—the pair was helping the Resistance when they had to make a run for it. They decided they'd have better luck if they split up, so they ran off in different directions, promising to meet back at the farm.
    • Later, they learned Henk was caught and shot, but at the time, they still held out hope together that he is hiding somewhere safely.
    • Dirk asks what happened to his mom, who was so cold and sarcastic when he returned that he barely recognized her. Geertrui knows he was always a mamma's boy so this must be hard on him.
    • Then he asks about Jacob, and she unravels. She hasn't had anyone to talk to about it, so telling Dirk all the details now comes as a relief and one, big emotional outpouring.
    • She tells him everything—we mean everything—and he quietly listens as she unloads on him. To Dirk's credit, he's a good listener, and this can't be easy for him, especially since he loves Geertrui.
    • When she's all done with her story, he looks her straight in the eye and asks her to marry him.
    • At first she thinks he's kidding, but why would someone joke about something like that? She's not sure why he would want to marry her after everything she's just told him.
    • He loves her and he wants to marry her on two conditions: (1) they tell everyone the baby is his, and (2) they begin their lives together now. Tonight.
    • Geertrui looks him straight in the eye and thinks about this offer from a guy she's know since she was a child; someone who loves her deeply, and someone she cares for too, in her own way.
    • Before they agree to this, she's got a few conditions of her own: (1) he can't run away again to help the Resistance; (2) she will not live on a farm after the liberation—she just won't; and (3) she won't go to bed with him until after the baby is born. They can sleep in the same bed, but nothing more until after the baby—otherwise, she'll feel like she is tarnishing what she and Jacob had.
    • She's pretty gutsy asking him for all this, but Dirk agrees. They get married by a local mayor two weeks later in secret, so Dirk won't get taken away by the Germans.
    • Later that year, Jacob's body was exhumed and buried in Oosterbeek, and Geertrui gave birth to a girl and named her Tessel. She's never told anyone that Jacob was the father—just like she promised Dirk. Dirk died in 1993, though, and she feels like she should confess to Tessel before she too dies.
    • Geertrui confesses she wanted to tell all of this to Sarah—to apologize for being with Jacob when he was married to her—but since Sarah sent Jacob instead, Geertrui will have to tell him.
    • She wrote her story down in English so Jacob can understand it and she would know what to say; she would give him this to read so he can learn the full story.
    • Geertrui also wants to give him three things: the paratroopers' insignia from Jacob's uniforms, the book of poetry from Sam that they read to one another, and a keepsake.
    • When they first decided to get together, Jacob suggested they exchange rings, but Geertrui didn't feel that was right, so instead they made talismans that were very similar. They were cut with a pocketknife from a tiny piece of tin found in the hay, symbols for each other to wear to declare their love—even if no one else saw them.
    • Geertrui gave the charm Jacob gave her to Daan, and the one she gave to Jacob, she now wants Jacob to have.
  • Chapter 20

    Postcard

    • Geertrui asks to see Jacob, so he heads on over to the nursing home where she lives.
    • She's in pain, and it's clear that she's not up to having visitors stay for a long time, but she definitely wants to give Jacob something special.
    • She tells him that she's got a gift for him and something for him to read, but she makes him promise not to read it until he gets home, which he does.
    • The two of them say goodbye to each other. Jacob wonders what the mysterious gift is, but he'll just have to wait until he gets home to find out.
  • Chapter 21

    Postcard

    • Daan tells Jacob he helped his grandma write it, and we figure out that "it" is what we've been reading all along—Geertrui's account of what happened between her and Jacob. Especially for the bits she had trouble writing in English, Daan had to step in—but don't worry: he just typed up what she told him.
    • We're filled in on what's happened since Jacob left Geertrui's place. As soon as Jacob got home, he tore into the memoir and didn't stop reading until he was done; he's surprised by the story, particularly since his grandma has always had nothing but amazing things to say about his grandpa.
    • Wait a minute. That's when he thinks about his own grandma—Sarah—and what she would think. She idolizes her dead hubby and Jacob worries this will ruin her.
    • Daan says not to tell her then. She doesn't have to know—just because Geertrui wanted to confess doesn't mean Sarah wants to know.
    • It's a lot to take in, but the boys realize they are cousins, and yippee—they might have heart disease in their family too.
    • Daan suggests they get some food to take their minds off the subject, but instead Jacob decides to cook his famous veal that his grandma taught him how to make; Ton comes over to eat with them.
    • Jacob thinks about how he's like his grandpa and Hille is like Geertrui—it's as if history is repeating itself.
    • While they're eating, conversation turns to marriage. Daan thinks it's out-of-date and belongs to another era—there's no point in people getting married anymore because it makes things boring, plus Daan doesn't think love should be defined or put in such a small box.
    • If he loves someone, it's not because that person is a man or a woman, or because he wants to get married. Love is just love, and it should be as simple as that. He loves Ton and this chick named Simone, and he sleeps with both of them. So what? Who cares?
    • Just then Jacob remembers Tessel making an off-handed comment about how Daan's lifestyle is different and he might corrupt Jacob—maybe this is what she meant.
    • Over ice cream, Jacob asks Daan why he, Ton, and Simone don't go in on a place together. If he loves both of them, and they're both cool with it, why don't they just shack up?
    • Daan hates this idea. For one thing, he likes being independent. He loves his own space, and he wants them to have room to breathe as well. Daan thinks that's the secret to their happiness, actually, to make sure they don't get bored with each other.
    • Jacob's been thinking about it, and he wants to be there on Monday, when Geertrui dies; he thinks it's only right, since she's his Dutch grandma and all.
    • But Daan flips out when he hears this—no one wants him to come to that. He should stay away.
    • Jacob thinks this is totally unfair, and he's not sure why Daan is so upset by this. Wouldn't Geertrui want him there?
    • Later, Ton and Jacob go on a walk down to the water where they put their arms around each other. They talk and laugh, and Ton tells Jacob that Daan was worried about him reading Geertrui's memoir. It's a lot to take in—finding out your grandfather is someone you thought he wasn't.
    • Ton asks Jacob to take it easy on Daan. It's hard for him watching Geertrui die, and Monday's only going to get worse; besides, think about how he feels.
    • Daan and Geertrui are very close, but she wrote down her memoirs for Jacob, someone she'd never met before—he's jealous of that.
    • Jacob never thought of it this way before, and he suddenly feels bad for Daan and wishes he hadn't been so self-absorbed.
    • They walk for a little while longer, until Ton has to go. They say goodbye, and this time, when Ton leans in to kiss Jacob, he doesn't pull away.
  • Chapter 22

    Postcard

    • At 8:30AM the next day, Jacob wakes up and finds Daan about to run out the door.
    • They have one of those exchanges—you know, where they're both saying sorry for the same thing. Daan says he'd had too much wine; Jacob says he wasn't thinking. It's all settled.
    • Jacob asks Daan to tell Geertrui thanks for the gift, and Daan promises to and then heads out.
    • Tessel stops by and has coffee with Jacob. She's really just using any excuse to check in on the guy, but he doesn't mind.
    • She hopes Jacob hasn't been offended while he's there since she's had so much going on with Geertrui, but he assures her he hasn't been.
    • He's liking Amsterdam more and more each day, and Tessel makes him promise to come back and visit soon. He does.
    • After Tessel leaves, Jacob feels restless—he doesn't want to read or listen to music, so he heads out and walks along the canals.
    • He finds himself at Alma's pad again, and decides to go in and say hi.
    • Alma is excited to see him, and the two share a coffee once again. He tells her about the rest of his trip and she asks him about Anne Frank's house—she remembers he loves her.
    • He's got a confession to make: he'd actually already been to Anne Frank's house when he met Alma the first time. He just didn't want to admit it yet.
    • Why? Alma doesn't get it. Surely he knew she was famous.
    • Jacob admits that he knew everyone read her diary, and he patiently waited in the long line to get in—but once he was inside, he felt out of place.
    • Everyone was super respectful of the house, but Jacob just felt wrong, as if it were someone's personal space that he shouldn't be invading. This place where Anne confessed her most intimate thoughts and put postcards on the wall shouldn't be something everyone can walk through.
    • He's had a hard time wrapping his head around it, but maybe some personal memories aren't meant to be taken.
    • Hmm… Alma listens and then tells Jacob not to worry. She thinks it's a normal reaction to someone's house, especially since Jacob loves Anne so much.
    • Then talk turns to another woman Jacob loves: his grandma. He dishes all that happened with his grandpa and Geertrui, still unsure what to tell his beloved Sarah.
    • Alma points out that Sarah might already know. Why else would she send him to Amsterdam, and why now?
    • Jacob can't believe it. Does she know? How come she never mentioned it if she did? Should he talk to her about it?
    • They say goodbye to each other, and Alma hopes to see Jacob again. He'll be back—he promises.
    • Jacob gets a letter from Geertrui telling him he can't be there when she dies. She's touched that he cares, but she has to think of Tessel and Daan now, and it will be harder on them if he's there. She doesn't want them to have to take care of someone when it happens. She hopes he understands.
    • Then he calls up Hille and asks to meet up with her the next day. She's reluctant at first because she's got school, but then she agrees to it.
  • Chapter 23

    Postcard

    • Hille and Jacob meet up, and Jacob shows her the story about his grandpa—she said she wanted to know who the guy was, so here it is.
    • Even though Jacob is still on the fence about showing his grandma, Hille seems to think this kind of thing happened a lot. It was the war; these things happen.
    • Then Hille brings up the kissing boyfriend position they'd talked about. He's a good candidate and all, but he's really got to live close enough to kiss her, so… she guesses he's out.
    • Darn. Jacob decides they'll meet again when he comes back to Amsterdam though. Agreed.
    • He gets out the matchbox that Ton first gave him, and asks Hille to write her number and address in there—this way he'll be able to meet up with her again.
    • At first, she's going to get off the train at the next stop, but then she decides to ride with him a little more.
    • Trust her to get him to the airport on time, she says. And with that, they're off.