Monday, April 18, 2016

Review: Girl In The Blue Coat

Girl In The Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Source: ALA Midwinter
Date Read: 4/2/16 to 4/4/16
320 pages

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.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

Hello. It's me again with another book set in World War II.

(I have seriously been struggling to write this review. It's been two weeks since I finished this wonderful novel, and I have a feeling I won't be able to do the book justice. I so apologize in advance for that.)

Every time I think I have read all the stories possible from the World War II era, I stumble upon another one that completely blows my mind. You've probably read about Liesel in The Book Thief, helping her family hide a Jew in the basement. Or experienced Verity's life as a spy in Code Name Verity. Girl In The Blue Coat tells a different story, one where our main character rather stay alive than put her and her family in danger.

It's 1943, and Amsterdam is occupied by German forces. Hanneke manages to find a job at a funeral home, though most of the job involves finding and transporting black market goods to buyers. Although dangerous, Hanneke has grown to lie and flirt with any officer on her path. With her Aryan looks, she doesn't have too hard of a time. Until she decides to get involved with finding a missing Jewish girl.

It's obvious that Hanneke doesn't want to be the hero, or at least she doesn't want to anymore. Yet even so, I was still thoroughly impressed with what she was willing to do to find this missing girl, someone she has never met before, ever. Out of every WWII book I have read, I have never connected with anyone more than I did with Hanneke. I imagined myself as her. I don't really consider myself a hero, but I also don't think I would just stand idly by. And I think it takes an immense amount of courage to fight for something that may ultimately get you killed. Especially if you're not involved at all.

Hanneke could have let all of this pass her. She could have remained ignorant of the situation. But she didn't.

The setting and plot itself was researched well. It featured the Underground Camera Group, another piece of WWII history I didn't discover until now. Apparently resistance groups hid cameras and secretly took photos of what was happening, and it was incredibly dangerous because the Germans obviously didn't want that going out.  

Lastly, I do want to mention that there's a pretty nice twist relationship-wise. I don't want to ruin it, but I totally did not see it coming. Poor Hanneke didn't see it either, haha.

Overall, I really think everyone who loves WWII should read this. I don't think it packs as many feels as Code Name Verity, or The Book Thief, but it is still a fantastic read!   
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