Cover Image: Under the Java Moon

Under the Java Moon

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Member Reviews

This historical fiction was very well researched and compelling, providing a perspective on British colonialism I hadn’t read before.

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I always enjoy reading WWII stories but I enjoy them even more when they are based on true events. Adding in this new location I've never read about before made the story even better.

I can't imagine having to live through what these people lived through. Being removed from your home, separated from your father, the endless drills and bowing and scraping to the enemy. It would break almost anyone. Yet these women and children kept going day after day. What incredible strength!

I would have liked more of George's story but based on real events I'm guessing they just didn't have the info. It sounds like Rita's family did not like talking about their experiences. Completely understandable.

I highly recommend this book!

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This was one of my favorite books in 2023!

The story begins with a Dutch family being separated during WWII when Japan occupied the Dutch East Indies. Rita was forced to relocate to a POW camp along with her pregnant mother, Mary, and little brother, Georgie. The conditions were deplorable — overcrowded, malnourished, and rampant with malaria and dysentery. But they had to do what they could to survive, holding out hope that the patriarch of their family, George, was still alive.

This was a such a harrowing, and yet uplifting, story. I have to be honest, I didn’t know anything about this part of WWII, but it is one I will never forget. Rita and her family were such strong and determined characters, and I admired them a great deal. If you enjoy emotionally-driven historical fiction that is based on true events, then you will love Under the Java Moon!

*Thank you to NetGalley and Shadow Montain for providing a copy of this book to review.*

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Brilliant, poignant, and heart wrenching. I loved this book. I don't know much about the Dutch East Indies, and it was really great to learn more. I loved that this was based on a true story. It made it much more enjoyable to me. Mary and George were amazing. I want to learn more about this location and what happened during WWII.

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Well researched and well written. A testament to the human spirit and incredibly moving. This book deserves all the stars.

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This book tells a story I was unfamiliar with during WWII. When Holland declared war on Japan, the Japanese army invaded the Dutch island of Java and forced the people into POW camps. We follow Mary and her two children as well as her husband who is serving in the Dutch Navy as they live through this dark time in world history. Again, I knew nothing about the more than 100,000 Dutch who were forced into prison camps and the atrocities they endured. While never enjoyable to read about the horrors of war, this book was well written and I appreciate getting to know these people and their stories.

Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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A riveting and moving historical fiction based on true events. Very well researched and written.
Many thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing and to Netgalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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I had to DNF this book. I found it boring and could not connect with any characters at all. I was listening to the audio version so maybe at another time I will read the print version and have a different experience.

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I thought this was a great story that was well researched. I love how the author told a part of history that I didn’t know anything about. I also liked how she made the characters come alive for us so we cared about what happened to them. I also enjoy Heather’s books because they touch my heart.

I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.

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This was interesting. I'm still undecided on if I liked it or not. A different type of story that I have not encountered before.

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For those interested in the Pacific theater of WWII and the lived experiences of Japanese occupation, Under the Java Moon delivers a poignant and moving story of loss and perseverance.

The novel follows the Vischer family, Dutch colonials living in Indonesia when the Japanese arrive and occupy the region. George, an engineer is drafted into service, separated from his family, who are marched out of their home and into the enemy alien camp at Tjideng. Told through the eyes of George, Mary, and their young daughter, Rita, the reader is immersed in the experience of living through war.

The novel and story is emotional and psychologically nuanced, but -- for this reader -- sanitized. While I felt sympathy for the Vischers, I felt no emotional pull, no real heart-wrenching, which -- perhaps strange to say -- I expect to feel from a story of this genre.

Moore's novel is well-crafted as a historical novel; pertinent historical events serve as the structure of the story, without it turning into a history textbook. But it is unfortunate that we only see the Dutch perspective of WWII here, and very little of the Indonesian experience. I would have liked to seen a little more balance of perspectives.

Overall, an enjoyable read, though less profound that its subject suggests.

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Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for approving my request for an advance copy. This was certainly an interesting and informational read.

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One of my favorite parts about reading historical fiction is learning about new places and experiences to me. Under the Java Moon is based on the true story of Rita Vischer and her family living in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) during WWII. After the Dutch surrender to the Japanese, the Dutch are forced into internment camps on the island where thousands of people are forced into very small camps and forced to endure disease, starvation, and beatings. A heartbreaking story, but one full of hope as the family separately endures the traumas of camp. I highly recommend this book for lovers of historical fiction. I especially loved the quotes from internees that were included throughout the book as well as some of the notes at the end of the book.

I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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A phenominal book! This book cured me from feeling burned out on World War 2 stories. I previously knew nothing about Indonisia and the Japanese occupation during WWII. This book is told in multiple point of views: Rita (6 years old), Mary (Rita's pregnant mother), and George (Rita's father). Each experienced the war in very different ways. Its clear in the story that Rita has to grow up really quickly, but she starts so innocent and childlike in the novel. Mary had to sacrifice and take care of her family in ways that any mother would shudder of thinking about, all while living with her children in an internment camp. George had to run away from Indonesia in an attempt to help the Dutch navy, but ends up being captured by the Japanese. George also spends most of the war in a separate internment camp, miraculously close to his family.

Heather Moore's gift as an author is that she can write about really heavy subject matter, describing horrific events, while still uplifting the reader and instilling hope. I really appreciated that while there were terrible details shared, the events were described tastefully.

Thank you to the publisher for the advance copy of this book. A poisitive review was not required.

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Under the Java Moon: A Novel of World War II by Heather B. Moore was a very moving historical fiction novel. I had little to no knowledge about the colonization of Indonesia by the Dutch prior to reading this book. Over time, thousands of Dutch people had made the trip from the Netherlands to Java Island to pursue business opportunities, raise families and seek a peaceful and prosperous life. Heather B. Moore gave her readers a glimpse into the everyday life on Java before, during and after the Japanese gained control of the island. As far as I know, little has been written about the way the lives of the Dutch people changed after the Japanese invaded and assumed control over the Dutch people that lived in Indonesia during the years of the war. Under the Java Moon was based on a true story. I was so thankful that Rita Vischer Elliott had been persuaded to share her story. Under the Java Moon opened my eyes to a time in history that I was not familiar with.

Rita Vischer was six years old when her entire life as she had known it changed right before her eyes. She lived on Java Island with her mother Mary, her father George, her younger brother Georgie and her Oma (grandmother). Rita lived a very idyllic life. Her father worked as an engineer for the Dutch Navy and was able to provide a comfortable life style for his family. Rita’s mother had learned that she was expecting her third child when the life they all knew and loved began to change. It was 1941 and the Japanese had begun to drop bombs on Java Island. Holland had declared war on Japan. The Vischer family spent many nights in the bomb shelter Rita’s father had built. Before long, George Vischer was forced to leave his family behind in Java when he was summoned to join the Allies in Australia to fight the Japanese. As he left his family, he believed they would be safe and remain together in their home. How wrong he had been.

Shortly after George’s departure, the Japanese invaded Java. They forced all Dutch citizens to evacuate their homes. Little six year old Rita, her mother, brother and Oma were taken to Tjident Women’s Camp in Bajavia located on the western side of Java Island. The treatment the Japanese imposed upon the women that were forced to live in this interment camp was barbaric and horrific. Their living quarters were cramped and crowded and lacked adequate sanitation and medical care. Women and children were separated from the men in their families. Two to three times a day, the Dutch women and children were forced to stand at attention for hours sometimes as roll call was conducted. The Dutch women and children were expected to bow to the Japanese officials and count off in Japanese, even though none of the Dutch women or children knew any Japanese. Women were tortured, killed or ridiculed for the slightest incidents. Many women were punished by the Japanese by cutting off their hair to make an example of them. There were times when food was withheld for days or even a week. The men’s prison was even worse than the women’s. The Japanese forced young sons when they turned twelve years old to leave the women’s camp and their mothers. These young boys were placed in the men’s camps with no one to look out for them. The atrocities the Japanese army inflicted upon the Dutch people were numerous and brutal. The atrocities the Japanese inflicted upon the Dutch went on for years and the Dutch people were forced to endure them. Even after the Japanese were defeated and the camps were liberated, the Dutch continued to suffer under the hands of the native Indonesian people who wanted to free themselves from Dutch rule. Due to this new conflict, many of the Dutch people were forced to leave the only home they had known for years.

Under the Java Moon by Heather B. Moore was such an incredible and inspiring story. It took a strong person to recount the details from a very difficult and painful time in her life. I am so glad that members of Ritz Vischer Elliott’s family encouraged her to do just that. It must have been extremely hard for her to remember and share these memories but it was also so important that she did. These atrocities committed against mankind must be acknowledged so they will not be repeated. Unfortunately, we are witnessing much of the same in Ukraine. Under the Java Moon by Heather B. Moore was hard to read in certain parts but it was very well written. I highly recommend it.

Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing for allowing me to read Under the Java Moon: A Novel of World War II by Heather B. Moore through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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This was one of those stories that stays with you. I had no idea about the Dutch people's experience in Indonesia during WWII. It was sad to read about the horrible conditions in the internment camps, but I liked that there were glimmers of hope throughout this story. I learned a lot from this book and I also really appreciated the chapter notes at the end of the novel. I highly recommend for readers of historical fiction/non-fiction and also those who want to learn more about different aspects of WWII.

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Moore is a masterful storyteller who researches little known aspects of history and brings them vividly to life. At the risk of showing my ignorance, I didn't realize how involved Japan was in WWII aside from right before Pearl Harbor onward. Their terrorizing reign of the Pacific was eye opening, as well as learning about the Dutch history on Java. We often hear/read about England, Spain, and even France colonizing the world, but I didn't realize the Dutch had made it to the Pacific. This story is one of grit and hope. I am so glad I read it!

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The book is set during WWII and based on a true story about a young Dutch family who is caught in the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies. In all the books I’ve ever read that are set during WWII, none of them took place in the Dutch East Indies. I had no idea the things that the Dutch and Indonesian people went through during that time period, but Ms. Moore uses her talents to really bring the era to life and pulls the reader in from the very first page.

The story is told from three perspectives—George Vischer, his wife Mary, and his daughter Rita. The author is able to give each character a compelling personality that comes through on the page. Readers will feel as if they are close friends of the Vischer family, which makes what happens to them so gripping. When George is sent off with the navy to fight the war and the minesweeper he’s on is torpedoed, his survival experience is juxtaposed with what is happening to Mary and their children as they are relocated to an internment camp. Ms. Moore expertly shows the heartache and misery of war without any graphic descriptions, while also highlighting the unexpected instances of compassion. At the beginning of each chapter a quote from a survivor of the internment camps is included, which gives extra context to what the Dutch families were facing, including the Vischer family. Though this story is heart-wrenching, there are beautiful moments of light and hope throughout as this family meets their hardship with courage and determination. This inspiring account will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page, a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of love. A can’t-miss book for anyone who loves historical fiction.

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Heather Moore has written a novel based on a somewhat forgotten slice of WWII history. When Japanese forces take over Indonesia, Dutch workers and their families are caught up in the invasion and citizens become prisoners of war. Based of actual testimonials, the Dutch women and children are held in one camp while separated from the men, including husbands. The cruelty of the Japanese conquerors is a focal point of the book as many characters expire from starvation. This is a page turner of a story with some writing flaws where sections read like transcripts of survivors. The final resolution of the prisoners' fate is stunning as native inhabitants also hated the Dutch and become intent on murdering them.

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Another historical fiction book to read is Under the Java Moon by Heather B. Moore. I absolutely loved her book, The Paper Daughters of Chinatown and highly recommend it- that was a five star read for me. Under the Java Moon didn’t grab me the same way, but it’s still a great book and writing with such detail that you cannot deny the talent of the author.

Six-year-old Rita Vischer cowers in her family’s dug-out bomb shelter, listening to the sirens and waiting for a bomb to fall. Her charmed life on Java—living with other Dutch families—had always been peaceful, but when Holland declares war on Japan and the Japanese army invades Indonesia, Rita’s family is forced to relocate to a POW camp, and Rita must help care for her little brother, Georgie.

Mary Vischer is three months pregnant when she enters the Tjideng women’s camp with thousands of other women and children. Her husband, George, is somewhere on the Java Sea with the Dutch Navy, so she must care alone for her young children, Rita and Georgie, and her frail mother-in-law. The brutal conditions of the overcrowded camp make starvation, malaria, and dysentery a grim reality. Mary must do everything she can to keep her family alive.

George Vischer survives the bombing of his minesweeper but feels little hope floating on a small dinghy in the Java Sea. Reaching the northern tip of the Thousand Islands would be a miracle. Focusing on of the love of his life, Mary, and his two children, he battles against the sea and merciless sun. He’ll do whatever it takes to close the divide between him and his family, even if it means risking being captured by the Japanese.

Under the Java Moon highlights a little-known part of WWII history and the impact of war on Indonesia, its people, and the more than 100,000 Dutch men, women, and children who were funneled into prison camps and faced with the ultimate fight for survival.


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