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Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
Some memoirs seem destined to impact other people’s lives with an intensity far beyond the mere recording of the various family memories involved. Such is 14 Days in May, Arthur van den Elzen’s eloquent memorial to his father, Ad van den Elzen, a Dutchman born in a tiny village in the Netherlands in 1930. Ad van den Elzen’s otherwise normal life was largely circumscribed by a debilitating accident suffered just when he was growing into manhood, a shooting accident occasioned by a military comrade who basically obliterated van den Elzen’s face. An accident that could easily have ended any man’s life right then and there, or upon survival should have, at the very least, derailed any future life from a semblance of normality. None of this, however, genuinely explains the deeply moving impact of this fascinating book.
Arthur van den Elzen’s tribute to his father, 14 Days in May, far from offering but a recollective story based on one family’s past, is first and foremost an enthralling tale of love and courage. Thera (Kappen) van den Elzen, Arthur’s mother, is the most heartening personification of an enduring, undying, devoted love one is ever likely to encounter, and the “object” of her love, victim of that devastating accident, is one of the most admirably enduring, undying, persistent men ever to inspire another man’s wish for emulation. Together, these two humble but indomitable human beings dominate this lovely book with an oddly normal if transcendent expression of true love. To say this book inspires is to understate its true impact on the reader. In truth, it will make you proud to be a human.