An unforgettable story of bravery, grief, and love in impossible times
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.
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. – Goodreads
I’m not sure how this book made my radar, but what I do know is that Elizabeth Wein’s blurb sealed the deal for me. I was amazed how quickly I got sucked into this story and wanted more. I’m notoriously horrible when it comes historical fiction because, as everyone knows, World War II is my historical jam. However, I’m glad I got over myself and read The Girl in the Blue Coat. I see this book as a historical game changer.
Hanneke, our protagonist, doesn’t know who she is anymore. It’s clear to me, as a reader, that she’s the heart of this novel and she’s a historian in the making (says a historian!) Hanneke is carrying around a lot of guilt, and this guilt has changed her. After her boyfriend, Bas, dies in the war she is dealing with the fact she convinced him to enlist, and how she can do her part to help in the war. When Bas died, part of her died too.
Her duty, is part of my favorite part of the war movement, the Resistance. Besides the fact that my graduating capstone was on women in the Resistance, Hanneke is everything I loved about the movement. She’s seemingly innocent, she becomes obsessed, she wants to do her part. What works is that this doesn’t differ from her life before the war. Before the war Hanneke was a firecracker who was never used to keeping her head down. The guilt of Bas’ death however changes her. What I enjoyed was how Hesse used that guilt to drive Hanneke into a mystery that shocked me until the final page.