Title: The War Outside
Author: Monica Hesse
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Synopsis: A stunning novel of conviction, friendship, and betrayal from Monica Hesse, the Edgar Award-winning and bestselling author of Girl in the Blue Coat
It’s 1944, and World War II is raging across Europe and the Pacific. The war seemed far away from Margot in Iowa and Haruko in Colorado–until they were uprooted to dusty Texas, all because of the places their parents once called home: Germany and Japan.
Haruko and Margot meet at the high school in Crystal City, a “family internment camp” for those accused of colluding with the enemy. The teens discover that they are polar opposites in so many ways, except for one that seems to override all the others: the camp is changing them, day by day and piece by piece. Haruko finds herself consumed by fear for her soldier brother and distrust of her father, who she knows is keeping something from her. And Margot is doing everything she can to keep her family whole as her mother’s health deteriorates and her rational, patriotic father becomes a man who distrusts America and fraternizes with Nazis.
With everything around them falling apart, Margot and Haruko find solace in their growing, secret friendship. But in a prison the government has deemed full of spies, can they trust anyone–even each other?
I want to start my review by saying how grateful I am to the team at TheNovl. I’ve been a part of the Book Squad for quite a few months now and every single book I’ve reviewed has been amazing. I don’t know how they do it, but they always find the best stories and incredible authors and I’m just so happy to be a small part of that as a reader!
That said, I did receive this book from TheNovl in exchange for an honest review.
The War Outside is about two girls and their families that are sent to Crystal City, an internment camp in Texas, USA, during WWII. Margot has German parents and Haruko Japanese, but both are second generation, so the US is the only country they’ve ever called home. We follow them as they try to reconcile their new “normal” locked inside a fence and the friendship (maybe more?) that blossoms between them.
I had to sit on this review for a while. Actually, when I turned the final page of the book I just had to give myself a few minutes. It’s so heartbreaking and emotional. The story is told in alternating narrative between the two girls. Sometimes we even see the same scene from their different view points. The author really does this so well. There are just so many underlying feelings and pain woven throughout this story and I got really attached to the characters. I would love more of their stories. What happened to them after the end of the book?
The author’s note at the end of the book is great too. She explains the elements of the story that are historically accurate and where some of her ideas in the book came from. WWII was such an interesting time in our world’s history and there are so many terrible things happening that I think it’s important to reflect on and not allow to happen again. Many of the messages throughout this book are incredibly relevant to our current political climate.
Absolutely give this book a read if you’re at all interested in historical fiction!
And now, a new segment to my reviews because I always mark passages that I love, but I also always forget to share them.
“I am so tired of this excuse. Of hearing that we have to excuse people for acting the way they act because they are scared. That I should excuse Margot because she was scared. That we should have excused her father because he was scared. That I should excuse a general because he was scared. I am scared. Ken was scared. We are all scared.”
*Please note, this quote is from an ARC copy, so it may change in the final copy.
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