on April 5th 2016
An unforgettable story of bravery, grief, and love in impossible timesThe 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.
I have been in a historical fiction mood lately and when I was afforded the opportunity to review The Girl in the Blue Coat I jumped at it. I love WWII era books and this one did not disappoint.
Despite reading a lot, and knowing the actual history behind WWII novels, Holland’s involvement in the conflict was a whole new concept to me and is one of the reasons I enjoyed this book as much as I did. Most of the information that I found fascinating was the Author’s Note in which it was explained the history behind the book. I believed for a long time that the only countries that were involved with the war where America, Germany, Japan, Brittan, and France. Turns out, that wasn’t the case. Holland was promised neutrality by Hitler and then was betrayed. Hitler invaded in 1940 anyway and two thousand Dutch nationals were killed defending their country in the Battle of the Netherlands. Germany began their occupation and instantly implementing stricter and stricter policies on the Jewish population. Over one hundred thousand Dutch Jews died in the Holocaust, three quarters of the Jewish population, a much higher percentage than those in surrounding countries. Hesse explains that this could have been caused by the Netherlands lack of tree lines and natural space used for hiding like other countries.
This information was something that I read in the Author’s Note AFFTER I read the book and made me love this book even more than I already had. So please don’t think that my review has just to do with my love of the history. This information did give me a better love for the fictional characters that represented those who truly struggled and died during this horrific time in our history.
This book follows young Hanneke, a Christian Dutch girl who spends her time procuring and delivering sought- after contraband to paying customers. During most of the book Hanneke explains that she has changed since the German invasion. Most of the reasons are slowly revealed throughout the story. It all begins with a boy named Sebastian. Throughout the story, Hanneke wrestles with her past, her present deals with an older woman Mrs. Janseen and a Jewish girl Mirjam, and finally her future in a world where all of her future plans have been destroyed.
For the most part, I don’t read mystery novels. I find them dry and easy to figure out. This story was not that. Not only was I guessing through each turn I found myself having an emotional attachment to these characters. Yes, Hanneke was a little dry and repetitive at times but I feel like that was natural for the situations that she found herself in and the reality of her everyday life.
Overall, if you love gut wrenchingly beautiful stories of guilt, love, war, with a touch of mystery Girl in the Blue Coat is the book for you. You won’t want to miss this roller coaster of a book!