There are moments throughout life when we might stop and think about this question. Maybe it’s a brief moment when we decide not to let the bully keep persecuting the outsider. Maybe it’s the moment when we turn away.
Hanneke’s life seems to be an unending series of these moments. Is buying and selling on the black market during a war bad if it means her parents can eat? Did encouraging her boyfriend to join the military mean that she’s responsible for his death? Will she try to help someone who can put her life in danger? Will she betray a friendship to save a stranger?
World War II fills this story with a lingering suspicion, intrigue, danger and fear, even in its happier moments. (There aren’t many of those; this one’s pretty dark.) The story moves quickly, but there are stops and starts around Hanneke’s feelings about the world she lives in and what she can do to change it. She wants to protect her family (and her own life) and also save others from the Nazis who have ruined her world. But if she can’t do it all, will she be able to accept the person she’s become?
An interesting one, especially if you’re a fan of World War II stories.
Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse