Summary and book reviews of Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

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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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2016, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2017, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Mollie Smith Waters

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About this Book

Book Summary

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.

Excerpt
The Girl in the Blue Coat

A long time before Bas died, we had a pretend argument about whose fault it was that he'd fallen in love with me. It's your fault, he told me. Because you're lovable. I told him he was wrong. That it was lazy to blame his falling in love on me. Irresponsible, really.

I remember everything about this conversation. It was in his parents' sitting room, and we were listening to the family's new radio while I quizzed him for a geometry exam neither of us thought was important. The American singer Judy Garland was singing "You Made Me Love You." That was how the conversation began. Bas said I'd made him love me. I made fun of him because I didn't want him to know how fast my heart was pounding to hear him say the words love and you in the same sentence.

Then he said it was my fault, also, that he wanted to kiss me.

Then I said it was his fault if I let him. Then his older brother walked in the room and said it was ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may 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 ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Girl in the Blue Coat has many twists and turns, and just when readers get comfortable in the knowledge that they know what will happen next, Hesse pulls the rug out from under them. A surprise ending, along with several other awe-inducing reveals along the way, keep readers in suspense to the very end.   (Reviewed by Mollie Smith Waters).

Full Review (674 words).

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Media Reviews

School Library Journal

The themes of love, betrayal, heroism, social responsibility, and atonement are beautifully intertwined with well-developed characters and a compelling story line. Thoroughly researched, this work brings history alive in a clear and concise way that rings true. A must-read for fans of historical fiction, especially stories set during World War II.

Booklist

An] affecting novel...that skillfully combines reality with fiction. Her characters come alive, and...Hesse's pacing infuses her story with thriller suspense, enriching the narrative with dramatic surprises both small and large.

Kirkus Reviews

Rich in content and emotion, this is a first-rate companion to the historical tales of the onderduikers, the hidden Jews of Holland, and a compelling read.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Themes of guilt and betrayal, ingenuity and courage, and the divisive effect of the occupation on friendship and community weave through a gripping historical mystery in which people and places, including the title character, are often not what they appear. Ages 12+.

Author Blurb Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale
Girl in the Blue Coat is a powerful, compelling coming-of-age story set against the dark and dangerous backdrop of World War II. It's an important and page-turning look at the choices all of us - including young adults - have to make in wartime.

Author Blurb Elizabeth Wein, New York Times bestselling author of Printz Honor-winning Code Name Verity
Every devastating moment of this beautiful novel is both poignant and powerful, and every word feels true.

Author Blurb Elizabeth Wein, New York Times bestselling author of Printz Honor-winning Code Name Verity
Every devastating moment of this beautiful novel is both poignant and powerful, and every word feels true.

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Beyond the Book

Jewish Children Smuggled to Safety

When Germany invaded The Netherlands in May 1940, few could have imagined the horrors that would follow, including the murder of about three-quarters of the estimated 140,000 Jews living in the country before the war. Almost as soon as occupation began, resistance groups formed to oppose German dictates.

Schouwburg MuseumWhen Ollie, a central character in Monica Hesse's Girl in the Blue Coat, takes Hanneke, the main character, to a group meeting, she discovers that the college students work to disrupt German rules, help procure limited rations for those in hiding, and smuggle babies to safety from the nursery next to the Schouwburg deportation center. While Ollie's group is not named, their actions are similar to those of a real organization known ...

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