May 14, 2016

Review: Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse


Review:  Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

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.

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Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
Published by: Little Brown BFYP  on April 5, 2016


This title was provided to us by the Publisher/Author. We were in no way compensated for our review(s).


I couldn’t find a trailer so here’s a song!
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GabbyNewAs a reader who is always captivated by the setting of European countries during World War II, I was already giddy to get reading author Monica Hesse’s Girl in the Blue Coat. The novel’s premise promised mystery and an exciting, secretive storyline. I was certain that the novel would be palatable for me and, as fate would have it, I was right! Girl in the Blue Coat was a novel that kept me guessing, had me on the edge of my seat, and invested me in the plot.

              Hanneke is a Dutch girl performing small, illegal trades during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. Specialized in getting anything from makeup to cigarettes to other goods, there is nothing that Hanneke can’t find. However, she finds herself pushed to her limits when one of her clients asks her for something she has never looked for before. Hanneke is asked to find a person: a Jewish girl named Mirjam who has vanished without a trace. Aware that Mirjam’s days in the streets are numbered, Hanneke embarks on a dangerous mission to find the girl before the Nazi’s do. In the process, she is forced to face the guilt-ridden secrets that she has been keeping, and uncover the ones that Mirjam has left behind.

              The one thing that had me sold on Girl in the Blue Coat was Hesse’s writing. There were so many pretty passages and perfectly described scenes that I was left elated at what a gorgeous read this novel is. Beyond this, Girl in the Blue Coat is a novel that is written in the first person and is done so masterfully. Being inside of Hanneke’s head was a joy and I loved every minute of it. Hesse reveals to the readers the many layers of her protagonist’s character and leaves readers wondering what the truth about Hanneke’s past really is.

              The story itself for Girl in the Blue Coat is great. While I did feel that the novel focused more on Hanneke and her character development as opposed to Hanneke’s mission to find Mirjam, the novel’s plot was still exciting. Girl in the Blue Coat keeps readers turning pages, eager to read more. With high-stakes and potentially considerable losses, readers will want to know what has happened to Mirjam and what will become of Hanneke

              The cast of characters in Girl in the Blue Coat were interesting and diverse. I was surprised by the amount of character development that occurred in the novel. In the end, it’s more than just Hanneke who ends up changed by the novel’s events. Characters who come off as filler turn out to be so much more and are revealed to be multi-faceted and original.

              All in all, Girl in the Blue Coat was a fun, genuine read that I would recommend to readers who are fans of historical fiction and the setting. Readers who are looking for a novel that has romantic elements and mystery elements should also give it a go. Lastly, any readers who want a novel that is well written should also give it a shot.


About Monica Hesse

Monica Hesse is the author of the young adult historical fiction novel Girl in the Blue Coat, as well as the young adult science fiction novel Stray and its sequel, Burn. She is a feature writer for the Washington Post, where she has covered royal weddings, dog shows, political campaigns, Academy Awards ceremonies, White House state dinners, and some events that felt like a mixture of all of the above. She has talked about these stories, and other things, on NBC, MSNBC, CNN, CSPAN, FOX and NPR, and she has been a finalist for a Livingston Award and a James Beard Award. Monica hosts a weekly Washington Post chat, Web Hostess, and she lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and a brainiac dog.


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