Monday, August 22, 2016

Girl in the Blue Coat - Monica Hesse

Title: Girl in the Blue Coat
Author: Monica Hesse
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2016 (Hardcover)
Length: 301 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Historical Fiction
Started: August 21, 2016
Finished: August 22, 2016

From the inside cover:

Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days finding and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, nights hiding he true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning he 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 scot of rebellion against the Nazis.

On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke foe help. Expectingo 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 is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations - where the only way out is through.

This just seemed like an interesting story, so I picked it up. Hanneke is an 18-year-old Dutch girl in the midst of the Nazi occupation in the Netherlands in 1943. She works in delivering black market goods around her neighbourhood, which allows her family to survive. In her mind constantly is Bas, her boyfriend killed in the Battle of the Netherlands a few years before. When one of her customers asks her to find Mirjam Roodvelt, the fifteen-year-old daughter of a family friend who she had been hiding in her home but had recently vanished, Hanneke is reluctant to get involved. When Ollie, Bas' brother, involves her in his activities with the Dutch Resistance movement, Hanneke begins to realize the extent of the treatment of Jewish citizens since the Nazi invasion and decides to commit to finding Mirjam. What follows is a tumultuous adventure through the streets of Amsterdam in which Hanneke examines guilt and action versus inaction that led to events regarding Mirjam, Bas, and others.

The novel was well-written and engaging to the point where I read most of it in one sitting. Hanneke was a relatable character, and her feelings quite reminiscent of an average teenage girl despite the situation that she's in. The actual mystery of Mirjam's disappearance is quite good and ends in a way I didn't expect it to.

An engaging story that is sure to be a enjoyable read for those that like historical fiction, particularly stories related to World War II.

Thoughts on the cover:
I like how the cover is made to look like a strip of film (from Mina's love of photography) with relevant images throughout it.

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