When Nazis have invaded your country and limited what you can do, it is the small defiances against them that keep you going. Hanneke takes anything that she does against the German’s as a point in her favor. Because when her country, the Netherlands, was taken over, she lost the boy she loved. Bas died on the front lines against the German army machine, and she can’t forgive herself for it. She feels responsible for his death.
So when she goes to work for the local funeral owner and he asks her to start making “special deliveries” she doesn’t hesitate. Even though if she is caught by the Nazis conducting this black market work, she’ll be punished and maybe even her parents will suffer.
On one such delivery during a cold winter afternoon, Hanneke is asked to help an elderly woman who confesses she’s been hiding a young Jewish girl in her pantry. The girl seems to have vanished in thin air. The woman begs Hanneke to use her contacts to try to locate this girl.
At first, Hanneke wants nothing to do with this search. After all, it could get her in so much trouble, it might even get her killed. But then she begins to become intrigued with what could have happened to the girl. After all, her city of Amsterdam is large, but there aren’t many places to hide from the Nazis these days.
Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse is a story of loss, hopefulness and despair in the midst of one of humanities worst times in history. Hanneke is tragically trapped in the past, and this might be her one chance to escape it.
Recommended for mature 7th grade and up readers.