Reading guide for Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

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Girl in the Blue Coat

by Monica Hesse

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse X
Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2016, 320 pages
    Apr 2017, 320 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Mollie Smith Waters
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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. How does Hanneke react to Mrs. Janssen's story of Mirjam Roodvelt? Why do you think she reacted that way?
  2. What is the significance of the scene with the Biermans that Hanneke witnesses during lunch with her parents?
  3. Why does Hanneke believe that her old boyfriend, Bas, would not recognize her? How does that impact her thoughts about finding Mirjam?
  4. Why has Hanneke decided to get involved with finding Mirjam? What would you do if you were in Hanneke's shoes?
  5. Describe what happened when Hanneke visits the Jewish school for information on Mirjam. Why was she so careless?
  6. Analyze Hanneke's interaction with German soldiers. How does she manipulate the interactions? List the character traits of Hanneke that are revealed by these interactions.
  7. Summarize what the reader has learned about Bas and Hanneke by the end of chapter six. Why is the author pacing out the details rather than revealing all of them at once?
  8. Imagine you are Hanneke and invited to listen in at the meeting at Leo's apartment. What do you notice about the attendees? What do you think of their purpose?
  9. What does Hanneke learn on her walk with Mina and baby Regina?
  10. How does Mina handle the German soldier with the empty baby carriage? What does that exchange reveal about Mina? What does Hanneke's reaction reveal about her?
  11. Summarize the flashback to the news of Bas's death. Why does Hanneke feel responsible? Decide whether her feelings are justified or not, citing evidence to support your position.
  12. Who is a great surprise to Hanneke? Why? What does she learn from Mina about this person's house? What clues does she discover?
  13. What's special about Mina's photography? Do you think her work is worth the risk or not? What clues are hidden in the color slides?
  14. What problem did Mina create? How does she offer to solve it? How can Hanneke make a difference in this situation? Summarize the plan.
  15. How does Hanneke's choice to stay out all night change her relationship with her parents? How have all of these young people changed because of the war?
  16. List the steps in the plan that Willem and Hanneke create to save Mirjam and the camera from most dangerous to least.
  17. What happens between Ollie and Hanneke as they wait for transport? How does it change their understanding of each other, and their relationship? What does it make Hanneke realize about the war?
  18. Where have they taken Mirjam? How does everyone react to the news? Were you surprised by this event?
  19. How does Hanneke pay her respects to Mirjam? Why does she keep everything a secret from her parents? Would you be able to keep something like this from your own parents?
  20. After the funeral, when the group goes on a bike ride, Hanneke has an epiphany. What was it? Why does she react the way she does?
  21. Who was the person buried? How is Hanneke certain of it, and how does this realization change her mood and thoughts?
  22. Explain Christoffel's part in the whole story. Why does Hanneke have great empathy for him?
  23. Summarize what Hanneke learns at the inn about that fateful night. How did things go so terribly wrong?
  24. Throughout the book, Hanneke often reflects on her friend Elsbeth. How does this relationship mirror the friendship between Mirjam and Amalia?
  25. Explain the significance of this quote: "Maybe we can't barter our feelings away, trading good deeds for bad ones and expecting to become whole (p.300)."
  26. Read the author's note. How did the author's training as a journalist help her write this book?
  27. How does the author keep tension throughout the story? Whose story fascinated you most and why?
  28. Why do you think the author chose to close the story with a memory of the narrator and her first love?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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