Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

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 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 is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations—where the only way out is through.

Beautifully written, intricately plotted, and meticulously researched, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, unforgettable story of bravery, grief, and love in impossible times. 



This was a whole new take on WW2. I expected gruesome work camps and feared deportations, but what I didn't expect was the acts of resistance. This book captured a behind the scenes bravery that I've never read about before. It pulled me into a thrilling plot full of danger, lies, and secrets.

Hanneke works in the black market where she recycles rations cards and buys items for those willing to pay. It's usually items like meat, lipstick, magazines, etc. So when a customer asks her to find a girl, her automatic reaction is to flee. She runs home and sits and ponders the pros and cons. She knows she shouldn't say yes, but deep down she wants to mend emotional wounds and save a life since she blames herself for taking one. 

She finds herself wrapped up in a twisted mystery that throws her on the doorstep of the resistance. It's a dangerous time and in honor to get answers she has to break rules and live on the edge. Each move could end with death, but she has her mind set on finding the girl and she doesn't stop until she does.

Let me start by saying I really enjoyed this book a lot. I love historical YA and I think this one was a perfect addition to the genre. However, there were a few things that held me back from loving it. First I found the plot twist to be very predictable. I knew what happened before it was revealed and I believe others would guess it as well. Second, I felt like many things were just grazed upon. I wanted to dive deeper into the theatre and see more of the intense darkness. Lastly, I wanted closure in other areas. I felt like the mystery got closure, but everything else was left open ended. Elsbeth? Ollie and Willem? I guess I need to keep in mind that there was no possible way to explore each character in depth. I still wanted to though.... and that is a great thing!

Overall, I definitely recommend it to all historical fans that appreciate new takes on a brutal time. Just keep in mind that it's not a love story. It's a story of healing and moving on. A story of sacrifice and hope. A story of bravery during the time of war.

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