A darkly disturbing yet thoroughly gripping young adult novel, The Girl in the Blue Coat is the story of a girl growing up in the Amsterdam of the Nazi occupation years. Hanneke has already lost the young man she loves to the war and is struggling with a sense of personal guilt for having pushed him to join up. She is striving to support her family and to rebel in her own small way when she finds herself drawn into a more complex and frightening series of events involving the rescue of a young Jewish girl from a Nazi roundup. Her reluctant decision to play a greater part in the Dutch resistance movement involves great danger but also helps her makes sense of a world which becomes daily more terrifying and confusing. Conflicting responsibilities and moral issues combined with the normal growing pains of emerging adulthood to give this story resonance and emotional heft.
A page turner in which there can be no happy ending, the book draws a satisfying portrait of a young woman in the process of maturing who is learning to face her actions and make choices.
Recommended for ages 14 and up.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.