Wednesday, January 16, 2019

January Book Club:
The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

January's Junior High book club choice was the historical fiction novel The Girl in the Blue Coat  by Monica Hesse, a missing persons mystery set in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam in 1943.  This was a change from the recent couple of book choices (Geekerella and Let It Snow), which had strong "romance" storylines, and everyone loved it! 

The main character, Hanneke, hates the Nazis for taking over her country, and for the death of her sailer boyfriend.  She's smart, brave and daring, but focuses on protecting and supporting her disabled father and out-of-work mother through a regular job and another on the side procuring and delivering black market goods.  Hanneke doesn't want to know too much about her Jewish neighbors' disappearances; "there's nothing I can do about it," she thinks.   When one of her best customers asks Hanneke to use her procurement skills to find a missing Jewish girl, a series of events brings her close to young people in the Dutch Resistance, and the truth of the Jewish transports.  Hanneke realizes there is something she can do, and throws herself single-mindedly into saving this one girl.  Nothing in the war is as it seems, and among the many many things that Hanneke sees and misunderstands is herself.

I love investigating the history in historical fiction, and put together the information below to create context for our discussions.

Our next few books are: February, The Adoration of Jenna Fox; March, Five Feet Apart; and April, Girls Made of Snow and Glass.

Dutch words

Hanneke - main character (pronounciation)

Mirjam - the missing girl (pronounciation)

gracht - canal

plein - square

Het Parool - The Watchword (underground newspaper of the Resistance)

Map of Amsterdam

Het Rembrandtplein - Rembrandt Square

Jewish Lyceum (where Mirjam, Amalia, and real-life Anne Frank attended school)

Joods Lyceum today (Google Streetview)

Joodse Ster ("Jewish Star") - the Dutch Star of David badge

Related image

Schouwburg theatre during WWII (where Jews were detained before being transported to the camps)
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Street where Ollie & Willem live (in the University of Amsterdam area)

Hollandsche Schouwburg today, as a museum and Jewish cultural center

Hollandsche Schouwburg exterieur. Foto Marijke Volkers

Walking route from Schouwburg toward the transport trains in the Eastern Docklands.
The plan is to help Mirjam escape the prisoner group before they reach the Muidergracht bridge.

Plantage Middenlaan - Google Streetview

Anne Frank House - 263 Prinzengracht, Amsterdam (Google streetview)

Plantage Middenlaan over Muidergracht Bridge

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Opklapbed - folding bed (like a "murphy bed" in English)

Image result for dutch antique murphy bed

Amsterdam to Kijkduin