The Girl in the Blue Coat

Mon­i­ca Hess
  • Review
By – March 23, 2017

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.

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