The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin

Kip Wilson. Versify, $18.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-358-44890-7

Loss and discovery twine throughout Wilson’s (White Rose) bittersweet historical novel, set in 1932 Berlin. Written in economical free verse, the story is narrated by Hilde, a cued-white Catholic 18-year-old who gains a warm and welcoming found family when she leaves the orphanage where she was raised, snapping up the opportunity to work as a waitress at Café Lila, a nightclub in Schöneberg, the city’s LGBTQ hub. A gifted singer, Hilde dreams of overcoming her stage fright to perform. She also dreams of moving from friendship to romance with lovely, laughing Rosa—a Jewish girl, also cued white, who serves drinks and performs at Café Lila, and has opened her home to Hilde. Meanwhile, Nazi brownshirts appear first as a distant threat and then develop into a frightening, violent force. While Hilde’s predictable internal growth is disarmingly joyous, it’s the era’s politics—and their connection to the present day—that give the Cabaret-tinged story its urgent momentum. Readers eager to learn more about queer life in the Weimar era will find plenty of avenues to explore in the densely packed author’s note. Ages 12–up. Agent: Roseanne Wells, Jennifer De Chiara Literary. (Mar.)