Simoen, Jan 1953-
Simoen, Jan 1953-
Born 1953, in Belgium. Ethnicity: Flemish.
Home—Fonteinstraat 75/44, Louvain 3000, Belgium. E-mail—[email protected]
Flemish Youth Jury Award, 2001, for What about Anna?
What about Anna? (young adult novel; originally published as En met Anna?), translated by John Nieuwenhuizen, Walker (New York, NY), 2002
Also the author of Met mijh gaat alles goed, plays, and books for children.
Jan Simoen's young adult novel What about Anna? is the story of sixteen-year-old Anna Bracke, whose family fled Croatia for Belgium. Anna's parents have separated, and she has lost two brothers as well. Jonas, whose presence is felt as he watches out for his sister, died of AIDS, while Michael, a UNICEF worker in Bosnia, is presumed dead, along with his girlfriend. When Anna is contacted by Michael's friend Hugo, however, the concert promoter tells her that Michael might be alive. To learn her brother's fate, Anna travels to see Hugo, but she does not tell her parents of her news in case Michael has not actually survived.
Anna's is a story of self-discovery amid the politics and history of the Balkans, and critics felt the novel would prove challenging reading for many American young adults. Horn Book reviewer Roger Sutton, for one, commented that "the novel is nevertheless an intelligent synthesis of story and theme." Kliatt contributor Claire Rosser felt that American young adults will be "fascinated" by the differences between their lives and Anna's and noted that the freedoms Anna enjoys are not typical of American girls. Rosser concluded, "In the end, this is an exotic, poignant story of loss and hope for a better future."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 2002, Francisca Goldsmith, review of What about Anna?, p. 1518.
Horn Book, July-August, 2002, Roger Sutton, review of What about Anna?, p. 472.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2002, review of What about Anna?, p. 667.
Kliatt, May, 2002, Claire Rosser, review of What about Anna?, p. 14.
Publishers Weekly, May 20, 2002, review of What about Anna?, p. 68.
School Library Journal, June, 2002, Kathleen Isaacs, review of What about Anna?, p. 146.
Jan Simoen Web site,http://www.jansimoen.com (March 21, 2006).