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Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

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The Girl in the Blue Coat 
by Monica Hesse

The Girl in the Blue Coat is the story of war.  As I started reading, I thought to myself, not another drama about the survival of the spirit during the Holocaust, however, I was quickly drawn into the lives of Hesse's characters.  Yes, the war is the backdrop (and central plot) of this novel, but in it's heart, The Girl in the Blue Coat is a story about love, friendship and the choices that we're faced to make.

Hanneke is a young Dutch woman who has lost her first and only love to the war.  What started as patriotism for her beloved country, has turned to a bitter taste towards all things combat related.  Closing herself off from everyone and everything, she goes to work for the local undertaker, mainly delivering items bought on the black market.  Even though Hanneke's family is not Jewish, her town is still overrun by German soldiers who would just as soon shoot you for carrying contraband than look you in the eye.  Hanneke's job is dangerous.

Hanneke is willing to live with a closed heart, making her deliveries and avoiding all personal relationships, until....she is asked to find something that even her black market contacts would find difficult; a young, Jewish girl.

The search to find the girl in the blue coat, Mirjam, becomes that eternal quest, the hero's crusade, that epic adventure that brings child to adulthood.  But like all great adventure stories, it is not the destination that Hanneke seeks, but the journey.  I felt for the characters in The Girl in the Blue Coat.  I cried, I worried, I ached, and at times loved Hanneke, her parents and her friends.  

This is a story that will appeal to young and old, boys and girls, and anyone who has ever fought for a friendship, lost a loved one or has felt the sting of betrayal.  If you can take another WWII tale, I would recommend this one.  Hesse makes it worth your while!

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