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Book Review

This biography by Kaylena Radcliff is part of "The Torchlighters Biography Series" published by the Christian History Institute.

Corrie ten Boom is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

In 1925, Cornelia (Corrie) ten Boom lives in Holland with her father, a watchmaker named Casper, and her sister, Betsie. The family sometimes keeps foster children in their tall, crooked house on a crowded street. Corrie's mother, now deceased, often told Corrie that God had great things in store for her. Corrie believes taking care of children is one of those tasks.

In 1937, as the family assembles to celebrate the watch shop's 100th birthday, there are rumors of war. Corrie's brother, Willem, brings in a Jewish man who was attacked by some Germans. Corrie is overcome with compassion for this man and his people. In 1940, Corrie and her family learn the Nazi party from Germany is attacking nearby countries. The prime minister of Holland says Hitler will not attack them, but Corrie's father is convinced otherwise. As Casper predicted, bombs soon begin to explode in their city.

The Nazis start turning some of the Dutch against the Jews. Jewish people aren't allowed service in many establishments and must wear stars on their clothing to indicate their nationality. Before long, the Nazis begin rounding up Jewish people and putting them in camps. Corrie and her family are distraught and pray about the situation, and Jews begin coming to the watch shop in secret. Members of the Dutch Resistance hear about the family's efforts and help build a secret room in Corrie's house so Jews can hide. As the ten Booms start having more Jews living with them, they have practice raids. They time themselves to ensure the Jewish guests can pick up their things and hide, in case the Nazis pay a surprise visit.

Despite the ten Booms' efforts to be cautious, the Nazis arrest Corrie, her sister and their father for aiding Jews. Casper dies in captivity and the Nazis separate Corrie and Betsie. Months later, Corrie and Betsie reunite as they find themselves together on a crowded train car to the Ravensbruck death camp in Germany. Amid the horrible conditions and torture, Corrie and Betsie get their hands on a Bible and share their faith with the other women in their camp. They even praise God for the fleas in their living quarters, as the bugs keep the guards from entering and catching them studying the Bible.

Betsie's health fails and she is sent to the infirmary in 1944. There she tells Corrie the Lord has shown her they'll both be free by the end of that year. She also talks about her vision from God about a place where people can be aided and rehabilitated after the war. Betsie dies at Ravensbruck. The very day Corrie is slated to be killed in the gas chambers, a paperwork error allows her to go home. It is late December. Betsie's vision about them both being free by the end of the year is realized.

As the war comes to an end, Corrie knows she must bring help and hope to those recovering from the horrors they've endured. She travels Europe sharing her story and her love for Christ. Along the way, a wealthy woman offers her a house to use as a rehabilitation center. As the woman describes it, Corrie realizes it is the very house Betsie saw in her vision. Corrie is also asked to speak in Germany. She's reluctant to return to the place of so many horrible memories but does so at God's leading. At one of her talks, a former Ravensbruck guard approaches her. She remembers him and remembers having seen him hurt many people, including Betsie. The man asks Corrie for her forgiveness, and by God's grace alone, she is able to extend a hand and forgive.

In the 20 years after the war, Corrie visits 64 countries and writes a number of books. She dies on her 91st birthday in 1983.

Christian Beliefs

Corrie's family prays frequently. They have compassion for Jews, knowing they are God's chosen people, and like all people, should be treated with kindness. She and Betsie also pray for the German soldiers deceived by a great evil. Corrie has a vision of a large wagon taking her family away. Corrie and Betsie are able to keep a Bible hidden during their time in the camps. They hold Bible studies and share God's Word with other imprisoned women. Betsie praises God in every circumstance, even thanking Him for the fleas that keep the guards from interrupting their Bible studies. She says if people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love. She wants to spend her life helping them do that. Betsie urges Corrie to forgive their captors and those who told the Nazis about their resistance efforts. After the war, Corrie spends her life sharing the message of Christ's hope and healing. In her travels, she comes face to face with a former camp guard who asks for her forgiveness, and she asks God for His power to help her forgive.

Other Belief Systems

Nazis believe people without a set list of characteristics, particularly those of Jewish origin, are weak and worthless.

Authority Roles

Corrie and her family wrestle with their consciences in circumstances where the authorities, the Nazis, are corrupt and evil. The ten Booms disobey the Nazis' orders by listening to banned radio stations, helping Jews and reluctantly lying about their involvement. They ultimately decide they must answer to God's higher authority and do His will rather than obey the laws of the land.


Nazis work and torture Jews and kill many in gas chambers at concentration camps. These acts are noted but not graphically depicted.



Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • How do Corrie and her family members feel about lying to the Nazis and disobeying their rules?
  • What compels them to hide Jews even though they know they're putting themselves in great danger?
  • Whose authority do they ultimately choose to obey?
  • What would you have done if you were in their place?

  • How can Betsie talk so much about forgiveness and thankfulness in such horrible circumstances?

  • How does Betsie's faith influence Corrie?
  • How is Corrie able to forgive the German guard?
  • When has God given you a special measure of strength amid a difficult situation?

  • Why do the Nazis do such horrible things to the Jews and those who support the Jews?

  • What are some reasons people behave hatefully toward others?
  • How does God want His people to treat those with whom they disagree?

  • How do Corrie and her family make a difference, even though they know they can't stop the war or Jewish persecution?

  • When have you thought you couldn't make a difference because you were just one person, or too small or too weak, etc.?
  • Think of some situations, in the Bible, in history or in modern times, where God used one person who wasn't famous to make a big difference.

Additional Comments/Notes

This review is brought to you by Focus on the Family, a donor-based ministry. Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

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