The Girl In the Blue Coat
Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.
On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman’s frantic plea to find a person – a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action.
This is quite the page turner, I quickly become invested and ended up flying through this. The mystery was engossing, but there was many other layers to this novel, it’s about Hanneke dealing with the loss of her first love, about the hardship of war , tough decisions and courage. I never knew what to expect, and found that things were rarely as they seemed. Nothing was simple, but thankfully everything mostly made sense. The ending was the only thing that didn’t entirely add up, it was awfully coincidental.
It seemed like the author did a lot of research and worked hard to make this historically accurate. She did a wonderful job of making everything (other than the ending) seem plausible. There was lots of details, about the culture, the city, and the war, that made this an immersive read. This transported me to Amsterdam making me feel like I was there, watching it all play out. The story was very well woven together and beautifully written.
Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn’t stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy’s gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her.
When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women Airforce Service Pilots – and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won’t accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of “passing,” of pretending to be white to be accepted into the program. Hiding one’s racial heritage, denying one’s family, denying one’s self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be.
This was exactly what I wanted it to be, I bought it hoping for a engaging and empowering story and that’s what I got. I loved reading and learning about the WASP, and I loved the characters. Ida Mae made for a darling protagonist, her story was compelling, and even though it isn’t a true story the author made it feel like it could have been. I loved the other characters as well, and the friendships Ida forms it has a great depiction of female friendship and girls supporting each other.
This is a immensely underrated novel, I really don’t get why it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It’s thought proving , well written and at just 288 pages it’s easy to fly through. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it’s one of the most satisfying books I’ve read in awhile. If your interested in reading about the roles women played in World War II, or simply enjoy stories about courageous girls you should consider reading this.