Review: Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

Monday, April 18, 2016

Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Publication Date: April 5th, 2016
Source: ARC Trade
Pages: 320

Summary (from Goodreads):

Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days finding and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, 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 German army invaded. Her illegal work keeps her family afloat, and Hanneke also likes to think of it as a small act of rebellion against the Nazis.

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 a dangerous task but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations—where the only way out is through.

Beautifully written, intricately plotted, and meticulously researched, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, unforgettable story of bravery, grief, and love in impossible times.

I have said it before and I will say it again, I LOVE World War II historical fiction. That being said, when I heard about this book (which was actually not that long ago surprisingly), I knew I had to get my paws on it. Thank goodness for #booksfortrade!

Hanneke is a seventeen-ish year old girl living in occupied Amsterdam in 1943. She has a job as a receptionist for an undertaker and a side job finding black market items and making deliveries to her customers to bring in money to take care of herself, her mother and her father.

One day, while going to make a delivery to a newer customer, she gets asked to find something rather unusual, a person. Mrs. Janssen was hiding a fifteen-year-old Jewish girl with a sky blue coat in her pantry, but she has inexplicably gone missing. Hanneke tries to refuse because of the potential danger to her and/or her family, but eventually ends up agreeing to try and find the girl.

This mission brings Hanneke to places she never thought she would end up. While looking for a lead on her missing girl, she finds herself among members of the resistance who are trying to save Jewish people. They try to recruit her, but she denies them, only willing to put herself out there for just the one girl she was asked to find.

But as she begins to learn more and more about what is happening to the Jewish people, she is more and more willing to do more for the resistance while also doing everything she can to find Mirjam at the same time.

It's a dangerous thing she gets herself into, but she is smart and brave and more than capable of pulling it off.

Along with being a great historical fiction novel, this is kind of a mystery/thriller type book. Mirjam Roodveldt, a Jewish girl who would not be safe anywhere else, left a perfectly safe hiding place and no one can figure out how she got out or why. She no longer has any family to have gone to, most of her friends are probably already either gone or in hiding, it just makes no sense for a girl with pretty much no one to leave a safe place, but she did and Hanneke has to find her and figure it out.

Hanneke is such a brave girl. Before the war started, she used every opportunity to talk politics and talk down about Hitler and the Nazis. Since the war started and the love of her life died, she has not been so outspoken, but she rebels in her own little ways by working in the black market. She eventually gets caught up in the resistance and rebels in slightly bigger and far more dangerous ways. She knows that these small rebellions could lead to her getting in trouble or worse, but the more she learns, the more important it becomes to take those chances.

This is not a book that revolves at all around romance. In fact, there is very little romance in this book at all. Hanneke's boyfriend, Bas, died at the start of the war trying to protect Holland from the Nazi invasion. A lot of this book is Hanneke trying to deal with her feelings of guilt over his death and the part that she feels she played in it. When she starts seeing a lot more of Bas's brother, Ollie, a lot of these thoughts and feelings get brought back up and she has a hard time dealing with them. But beyond Hanneke's reminiscing about Bas, there is practically no romance.

This book felt like a really fast read to me. It took me a few days to read, but it felt like when I was reading it, I just flew through the pages that I read, which was good and bad. I really enjoyed this book and wanted more! It kept me turning the pages because I just wanted to know if Mirjam is found safe and sound and if any of the situations Hanneke finds her in end poorly!

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book! If you like WWII era historical fiction and mysteries, you will definitely like this one!

Have you read this book? What did you think?


  1. I love WWII books though because of how sad and gruesome the stories often are I have to mentally prepare myself before reading them. I've had this book for a while and wasn't going to read it but maybe I'll try to squeeze it in at some point since you loved it so much!

    1. I think that basically I love WWII books for the same reasons as you do! I hope you do find the time to squeeze it in! It is so good! I definitely think that it will be worth your time! I hope you love it as much as I did if you get around to reading it!

  2. This book sounds incredible. I don't normally care for wartime historical fiction, but a some point I might make an exception for this story. Thanks for the review. :)

    1. Yay! I hope that you do make an exception! This book was fantastic! I would definitely recommend that you read it! I hope you love it if you do and I would love to see what you think of it!! :)


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