Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
Release date: April 5, 2016
An e-galley was provided by the publisher in exchange for review consideration.
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.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Girl in a Blue Coat was definitely a book that I thought would be up my alley. It didn't quite meet all my expectations, but it's a solid historical fiction read.
Hanneke, the protagonist, could've done with a little more character development. She made choices that didn't always line up with what her parents wanted, or what her new friends wanted to do, but she still felt a little too two-dimensional to me, beyond her black market smuggling and her love for Bas, her boyfriend who died. (It's in the book flap synopsis, people. It's not a spoiler.) I could feel Ollie's and Mina's passion for the resistance, but I couldn't feel Hanneke's.
I loved the twists and turns in the main plot. The author left me as clueless as Hanneke, and I even made a couple wrong guesses.
The plotline with Ollie, though... It felt kind of shoehorned in. Like, it was a convenient excuse for him to not get together with Hanneke. Don't get me wrong; I was glad they didn't have a romance, but I thought the author's choice for why he wasn't interested in her just didn't feel authentic, nor was it given enough lead-up.
There was next to no foul language. The book was a little violent in a couple places, but it wasn't gruesome.
The Verdict: Pretty good, but the emotional depth I was looking for wasn't quite there.
Will I be adding this book to my library: Probably.