Summary: It’s 1944, and World War II used to feel so far away from Margot in Iowa and Haruko in Colorado. Until they were forced to go to Texas because of where their parents came from: Germany and Japan. Haruko and Margot meet at the high school in Crystal City, a “family internment camp” for those accused of working with the enemy. The polar opposites form a secret friendship, where they can share most of their worries with each other. Haruko fears for her soldier brother’s life and just ca’nt figure out the secret her father is harboring from her. Margot is doing everything to keep her family together, as her mother’s health declines and her father’s distrust for America increases. As everything around them falls apart, Margot and Haruko find solace in their friendship. But in a prison the government has deemed full of spies, how much can they really trust each other?
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Monica Hesse’s The War Outside was one of most anticipated releases of 2018, especially after loving Girl in the Blue Coat . I absolutely love historical fiction set during the World War II era and The War Outside is no exception. This beautifully-written book is easily one of my favorite 2018 reads and has solidified Monica Hesse as one of my favorite authors.
The War Outside is the only book I’ve read about one of the US interment camps. While I learned about them in school, especially when it came to the interment of Japanese citizens, I never knew that German citizens were also imprisoned. I appreciated both Haruko and Margot’s perspectives for their stories and cultural backgrounds. Like many, it made me sad to think that these girls were American citizens but were imprisoned just because of their ethnicity and their parents’ actions.
As I’m sure you can assume by now, I absolutely flew through this book because I needed to know more about Haruko and Margot. I don’t think I preferred one perspective over another because they were so different, yet they obviously have the connection of living in Crystal City. Haruko’s story often left me heartbroken, over her fear for her brother and the uncertainty surrounding her father’s actions. Margot is quite unsure of herself, something that I feel like I haven’t seen in YA in a while. I really liked learning about her family, even when in their darker moments.
Without too many spoilers, the only aspect of the story that I wasn’t a major fan of was the potential romance. I don’t even know if this was really a romance, considering the emphasis on friendship and family, but I don’t think it was necessary for this story. AND THAT ENDING! I’m definitely going to have to go back and read the girl’s in-the-future excerpts to get a better sense of their ending.
Overall, Monica Hesse’s The War Outside is an emotion-filled, important read that will leave you wanting more of her stories, as well as Haruko and Margot’s.
This review is based on an advance reading copy. By no means did this affect my thoughts and opinions.
Is The War Outside on your TBR? What are some of your favorite historical fiction novels? Share in the comments!