*SPOILERS FOR GIRL IN THE BLUE COAT BY MONICA HESSE*
1.5 million children were killed in the holocaust. Millions more were at risk of being killed. Girl In The Blue Coat is a fictional story about the Holocaust. Hanneke is a young Jewish girl who works for the black market. One day a client of hers asks her to find a Jewish girl who mysteriously disappeared from a safe haven. Her name is Mirjam and if she if found, she will be sent to a concentration camp. She is faced with the decision of keeping her family safe, or helping a young girl avoid a dangerous situation.
One idea that Hesse incorporated into this book was courage. Hanneke has to find the courage inside of herself to help her client. She doubts her abilities and she doesn't want to risk her family’s safety. “What outcome does she think I can deliver? I wouldn't know where to start” (Hesse 27). Hanneke decides that if she could find things for the black market then she already had a better chance of finding Mirjam than anyone else. She also reasons that if Mrs. Janssen asked others to help her, she would be putting herself and Hanneke in more danger. I like how Hesse continued this
theme of courage throughout the whole book because it allowed Hanneke to take more risks. Hesse teaches me that true courage is when you sacrifice yourself for others. Hanneke had true courage because she did this for Mrs. Janssen.
Hesse also continued the theme of hope . “All the contingencies we couldn't anticipate are running through my head as I think of how slender the plan is that we’ve rested all our hopes on” (Hesse 233). Hesse incorporated many different situations in which everything could go wrong in Hanneke’s plan to rescue Mirjam. Hanneke and her friends stayed hopeful throughout the whole process and I admire this aspect of the book. When Hanneke tells Mrs. Janssen that the girl she was pursuing had died, Mrs. Janssen is devastated. Hanneke then finds out that the girl she had been pursuing was Amalia, Mirjam’s best friend. They had switched identities so that Mirjam could stay safe. With no clue at all where the real Mirjam could be Hanneke remains hopeful, as did Mrs. Janssen. We learn here that keeping hope is definitely not an easy task. Surround yourself with people that you love and care about because those people will be your support system and help you stay hopeful.
Suffering also played a key role in Hanneke helping Mrs. Janssen find Mirjam. Through her friends, she found out that Mirjam (Amalia at the time) was at a deportation center. Hanneke was so determined to find Mirjam, she conned her way into the center. “Hordes of people are kept in there for days with almost no working toilets” (Hesse 109). Hesse uses great imagery at this point. She describes the smells and the surroundings in the deportation center. She does a fantastic job of bringing the reader into the moment and makes it feel like we are there watching the horrors Hanneke is experiencing. When you make choices in life that put you into poverty, and you start to suffer, you will have done that to yourself. You still deserve help, but when someone else makes you suffer for no ethical reason that is when it is too much. Hesse teaches me about this unethical suffering.
Hesse did a great job of entering these key concept of suffering, hope, courage, along with a minor component of the book friendship. Overall, Monica Hesse did a wonderful job with her imagery and details. I loved the book and all the plot twists.
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