NINE OPEN ARMS

Benny Lindelauf

Nine Open Arms, a vivid historical novel, is compellingly mysterious as well as dramatic, humorous, and entertaining. A ghost story, a fantasy, and a family saga all wrapped into one, the novel begins with the Boon family’s move to an isolated, dilapidated house that seems to have turned its back on the world.

It is 1937, and nine people set out for the middle of nowhere: a house at the end of a long, dusty road. Is it the site of a haunting tragedy, as one daughter believes, or an end to all their worries,

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Nine Open Arms, a vivid historical novel, is compellingly mysterious as well as dramatic, humorous, and entertaining. A ghost story, a fantasy, and a family saga all wrapped into one, the novel begins with the Boon family’s move to an isolated, dilapidated house that seems to have turned its back on the world.

It is 1937, and nine people set out for the middle of nowhere: a house at the end of a long, dusty road. Is it the site of a haunting tragedy, as one daughter believes, or an end to all their worries, as their father hopes?

The novel’s gripping language plunges the reader into the world of a large, colorful, motherless family that finds itself teetering between different times and places.

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  • Enchanted Lion Books
  • Hardcover
  • June 2014
  • 264 Pages
  • 9781592701469

Buy the Book

$16.95

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About Benny Lindelauf

Benny Lindelauf was born 15th December 1964 and grew up caught between two siblings. Inspired by his grandmother’s storytelling, he wrote all his life, but didn’t publish his first book until he’d tried many other things first: social work, theater school, creative dance, youth productions. But writing seems to be what he’s best at. Imagination, wit and drama are crucial ingredients in Benny’s stories. Lindelauf said: “Writing is like moving from one house to the next over and over again.” In Nine Open Arms, the writing moves through many rooms and houses, even worlds.

Praise

“Every element of the tale has a purpose, and in the end, the multiple layers of past and present separate and come together in surprising, often discomfiting twists and turns. . . A challenging and entirely unique Dutch import.”—Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Lindelauf ’s masterful rendering of fraught yet loving sisterly ties, snappy dialogue, graveyard mysteries, and “traces of a tragical tragedy” from generations past combine to humorous and poignant effect in this gripping tale of eclectic families and inveterate wanderers in search of a welcoming home.”—Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Discussion Questions

1. The three parts of the book have distinct tones and purpose, but the multiple layers and time periods eventually connect. Why do you think the author chose to structure the book this way? How did it affect how you read the book?

2. One of the father’s mottos is “First believe, then see.” How do you see that applying to the overall story, and your own reading experience?

3. Fing is not an omniscient narrator since she learns the stories one by one from Oma Mei. Did you feel more connected to Fing because you were figuring out the story at the same time?

4. Who, or what, do you consider the main character? Why?

5. Nine Open Arms becomes a symbol for the many themes running throughout the book: displacement, determination, loss, love, and hope. Which characters in the book experience these emotions most strongly?

6. This book includes a “tragical tragedy,” historical fiction, mystery, magical realism, humor, intricate plots, and a love story. If you were to describe the type of book it is to a friend, what would you call it? Where should it be located in a bookstore?

7. The author and translator provide a translator’s note, a character list, a slang word list, a map, and a contents page. Did these additional pieces inform how you read the book? Did you find yourself referencing them often? Do they relate thematically to the interwoven narrative?

8. At the end of the book, what are the strongest characteristics of the family members? What does Fing come to understand about her family?

9. What do you think will come next for these characters? Consider the time period. Could WWII affect this somewhat magical folkloric world? What has the narrative thread about the travelers already taught us about “otherness” in Europe at this time?

10. Did knowing the book was a translation effect how you read the book? Or, if you did not realize it was a translation, does it change how you think back to it now?