Title: Girl in the Blue Coat
Author: Monica Hesse
Genre: Historical Fiction
“Lucky has become such a relative term, when the standards to meet it involve only not being treated like a criminal in your own home city.”
A young woman named Hanneke mourns the death of her boyfriend who was killed fighting the Germans when they invaded Amsterdam. Hanneke plays her own role in fighting the Nazis by selling black market items to her community members at night. One night, one of her customers, Mrs. Janssen, asks for an unusual task that could put Hanneke in more danger than she has ever been in before. She asks Hanneke to locate a missing jewish girl who Mrs. Janssen had been hiding from the Nazi authorities. Although she knew the risks that this would pose, Hanneke accepts the task and begins to look for the missing girl who was last seen wearing a blue coat. Her investigation leads her down a path where she soon discovers the depths of the Nazi’s cruelty and finds herself working with the resistance.
“We need girls who are pretty so the soldiers don’t notice that they’re also smart and brave and working against them”
This is one of my all time favorite World War II books. It turned out to be so much more than I even expected. A lot of books discussing the holocaust are really sad and this one has its sad moments as well. It’s impossible to read about the cruelty that people experienced at the hands of the Nazis without feeling sad. Girl in the Blue Coat however, also highlighted the resilience of people and the power of hope. It showed that through trying times, regular, everyday people still had the courage to stand up for what was right. They put their own lives in danger to save others and it is truly inspiring.
“Fear. That’s right. That was the odor I couldn’t place before. That’s the smell of my beautiful, breaking country.”
Monica Hesse did such a great job of portraying the characters in this book. Each had their own personality and backstory that made them likable. The main character, Hanneke, was very relatable in that she was just a young girl who had fallen in love and had her world turned upside down. I imagine I would have been like her had I been alive in Europe at that time.
There were also a lot of intense moments that had my heart racing. Just walking by a group of Nazi soldiers would have been terrifying, let alone while you have information pertaining to the resistance on you. Monica Hesse describes these moments in a detailed manner that will have you holding your breath along with the characters. This is one of those books that I will never forget.
“But I suppose love doesn’t stop, even in wars. There’s only so much time a day that you can spend being terrified of something before your instinct to feel natural human emotions would kick in.”