cover image Girl in the Blue Coat

Girl in the Blue Coat

Monica Hesse. Little, Brown, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-316-26060-2

In this riveting Holocaust novel, Hesse, a journalist for the Washington Post, brings readers to 1943 Nazi-occupied Amsterdam as teenage Hanneke Bakker learns more than she ever wanted to know about the atrocities committed against her Jewish neighbors. When Hanneke, who supports her family by delivering black market goods, is enlisted by a customer to search for a disappeared 15-year-old Jewish girl named Mirjam, she tries to keep her quest an isolated concern. As Hanneke’s investigation draws her into the web of systematized degradation and brutality afflicting all Jews, she recognizes that refusing to participate in the underground resistance would make her complicit with evil. Hanneke forcefully conveys the tortured emotions of citizens and city: “Fear. That’s right. That was the odor I couldn’t place before. That’s the smell of my beautiful, breaking country.” 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–up. Agent: Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown. (Apr.)