Book Review: Girl In The Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

Girl In The Blue Coat
Author: Monica Hesse
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Released: April 5 2016
Review Source: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

An unforgettable story of bravery, grief, and love in impossible times

The missing girl is Jewish. I need you to find her before the Nazis do.

Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.

On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman's frantic plea to find a person--a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action.

Meticulously researched, intricately plotted, and beautifully written, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, gripping novel from a bright new voice in historical fiction.

Hanneke is a young Dutch girl trying to make her way during World War II in the black market. Doing illegal things is what she's good at, as long as the tasks are menial. When asked to find a young Jewish girl she knows what the consequences can be, but knows that to do right by her beloved Bas who died during the war she'll find the young girl and make things right.

I am a lover of World War II era stories. Schindler's List is one of my all time favorite films and World War II was actually the only time I paid attention in History classes. I'm not completely sure why. I think it's my morbid curiosity of the simple fact - how in the world could Hitler be so cruel and insensitive? And how was it like to live in that time?

This book hits you hard. There were times when I seriously stopped because it was too overwhelming to realize what exactly these people were experiencing. Yes the characters are fictional. But Hesse does such a great job at making you feel as though you are experiencing the world in that time frame. There was one sentence that made me stop and go whoa...people didn't realize what was happening. They didn't know about the concentration camps, they were unsure where the Jewish people were being taken. And that's tough to take in. Your neighbor leaves, you think they're getting taken to a work camp, to only later learn the truth. Hesse did a good job at making readers realize this, and feel as though they were experiencing this.

While the story is set during a depressing time era there are definite perks to the story. The underlying story is the simple fact of how powerful love can be. Love can make us do foolish things, it can make us brave and it can make us vulnerable. There are so many different love stories in this book. That of young lovers, best friends, and families. And each one is just as powerful as the other. Hanneke, Bas, Ollie, Amalia, Willem, everyone shows their love in this story - and they each are such strong and powerful characters fighting for what they believe is right with what all they can do during the time period.

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