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.
Beautifully written, intricately plotted, and meticulously researched, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, gripping novel from a bright new voice.
Author: Monica Hesse
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: April 5th 2016
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War, Death, Grief
I’m… disappointed. Underwhelmed. Don’t really know how to feel. I was just expected something sadder, more thought-provoking. Don’t get me wrong, it was okay. Maybe it was just a personal preference. On a brighter note, I am appreciative of the cover under the dust jacket.
We follow Hanneke, a grief-ridden girl who works for the black market getting people what they need as a small rebellious act towards Hitler. On one of her runs, a client asks her to find a person, which at first she declines but ends up doing anyways. I couldn’t really feel any sympathy for our main character. There’s no connection between her dead boyfriend, we don’t get to know him or their relationship much so I can’t feel anything. I feel like this story could’ve been more powerful if we were following a Jew struggling in this situation.
Hanneke as a main character was boring. And towards the end, she made some stupid decisions that lessen any type of fondness I could’ve had. The side characters were boring and forgettable. The girl she’s looking for and the mystery surrounding her, I just wasn’t interested. And that plot twist? Very obvious in my eyes. There was one side character actually who kind of caught my interest, Willem who was gay, but he was rarely there. Her relationship with her parents, while nice, could’ve been more and the way they left on bad terms makes me think that their relationship is shattered which breaks my heart. It would’ve been nice to have a supportive family through her time of grief and I get it, she’s grieving, but no type of reconciliation? It would’ve been a great addition to her character development.
There was a scene towards the end with Hanneke and Ollie-her dead boyfriends’ older brother- that made me feel so much second hand embarrassment (which no matter how small the embarrassment is, I’ll always feel times 50) that I had to set the book down. There’s no romance in this book, though we do kind of get a few flashbacks towards Hanneke and her boyfriend. Overall, I’m a bit conflicted. I may change the rating… I’m not sure.
Update 02/03/2018: I changed the rating… #sorrynotsorry