Set in Nazi-occupied France and and Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, these two novels, while quite different, both highlight courage–not the bravery that soldiers show on the battlefield but the slow-burning quiet courage that only appears when you see humanity at its worst.
The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
It’s 1943 in Amsterdam. Hanneke and her parents are trying to live quietly and unnoticed during the Nazi occupation, although Hanneke secretly has started finding black market goods to help put food on the table. When a neighbor asks her to help find a Jewish girl who has seemingly vanished into thin air, Hanneke reluctantly accepts the job. But, as the search progresses, Hanneke starts to realize that hiding–from the Nazis and from her own secrets–is not an option. She soon finds herself pulled into a network of student resistance activities as she attempts to solve the mystery and save the missing girl. Along the way, Hanneke learns lessons about love, courage and friendship.
The Girl in the Blue Coat combines suspense with historical fiction. Hanneke’s story is compelling, the pacing is fast while still allowing room for introspection, and the outcome is not quite what you’ll expect. It’s a good YA read that adults also will enjoy.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Sisters Viann and Isabelle have a complicated relationship, loving yet marred by the rejection of their father and the loss of their mother when they were children. Viann is the older steadfast one, living a quiet life in the French countryside with her young daughter while her husband is fighting. Isabelle is the outspoken, impulsive one, quick to fight back against the Nazis. When their father, rejecting Isabelle yet again, sends her to live with Viann during the occupation, their complicated relationship comes to a breaking point and Isabelle goes away to become a resistance fighter. As the story unfolds, we learn that courage comes in many forms, whether it’s a quiet resistance born of necessity or an active resistance born of nature.
This amazing historical novel has it all–hardship and heartbreak, suspense, families, love, loyalty, betrayal. You will not be able to put it down.
Submitted by Ms. Bing
Genre: Historical Fiction