Monday, October 24, 2016

Review: Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

Title: Girl in the Blue Coat
Author: Monica Hesse
Year Published: 2016

Genre: YA historical fiction
Pages: 301
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2016 Google Reading map)Netherlands

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days finding and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, 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 German army invaded. Her illegal work keeps her family afloat, and Hanneke also likes to think of it as a small act of rebellion against the Nazis.

On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants her to find 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 a dangerous task but it ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations--where the only way out is through.

Review: I am always game to read a good World War II or Holocaust novel; I never seem to tire of the genre and this one didn't disappoint, especially since it takes on a different viewpoint. I like that it is set in the Netherlands because everyone only thinks of Anne Frank and hiding in an annex when they hear World War II and the Netherlands. Instead, this novel follows a non-Jewish young woman and her attempts to foil the Nazis through acts of rebellion.

What does it mean to rebel? Do you have to save lives? Break the rules? Endanger your life and those around you? Or can it mean wearing resistance newspaper clippings in your shoes to stay warm, finding black market goods for your neighbors, and taking covert photos of Nazi activities. All of these ideas come together in this novel, showing various rolls that ordinary people played during the occupation.

I cared about the characters in this book and wanted them to rescue those for whom they were searching. I wanted them to survive the war, fall in love, and meet up with friends who had disappeared. And reading the Author's Note at the end of the story made it all mean more to me, as it always does in historical fiction. I was especially intrigued by the idea of photographers taking secret photos of round ups, deportations, and every day life during the years the Nazis were in the Netherlands.

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