New from Monica Hesse, the bestselling and award-winning author of Girl in the Blue Coat an "important" ( New York Times Book Review), "extraordinary" ( Booklist, starred review) novel of conviction, friendship, and betrayal.
"A must-read for fans of historical fiction." Ruta Sepetys, #1 New York Times bestselling author
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 Coloradountil 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 anyoneeven each other?
Monica Hesse is the bestselling author of Girl in the Blue Coat, American Fire, and The War Outside, as well as a journalist with The Washington Post. She lives outside Washington, D.C. with her husband and their dog.
The War Outside 3 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
The War Outside gives readers a glimpse of the fear caused by World War II and explains why the internment camps came to exist. Margot’s family highlights how being imprisoned in an internment camp begins to change everyone. Margot’s father’s anger begins to control his actions, and he begins spending time with Nazi sympathizers. Margot struggles with the fact that she loves her father, but doesn’t approve of his actions. Margot knows that, “marching with a Nazi swastika is not like algebra, where you can get the wrong answer but be right some of the time. This is all wrong.”
The story is told from the perspectives of both Haruko and Margot, which allows the reader to understand the motivation of both characters. The struggles of the internment camp bring Haruko and Margot together, and they both have romantic feelings for each other. While the girls’ attraction is hinted at, the topic is not explored in depth which makes it hard to relate to the girls’ strong feelings for each other. In the end, Haruko wonders how she can make a decision based on a moment, “for a person I have known barely a month? For a feeling that was so fast and so strong, and that I can barely even describe?” The reader is left wondering the same thing—why are the two girls so devastated by the other’s actions?
There are several family conflicts that should have been explored in more detail. Even though it is clear that the girls love their families, the story lacks family interaction that would have brought their relationships into focus. In the end, the characters lack development, the ending seems rushed, and the conclusion falls flat. Although the story is an interesting read, it will be easily forgotten. Read more at Sneak Peek Book Reviews.
More than 1 year ago
An interesting slice of life from an era that we spend a lot of time looking elsewhere rather than in the states. While it deals with a lot of heavy topics and really educates on just what it would’ve been like to be in a family internment camp in your own country (and made to feel like even more of an outsider) a lot of the book deals with the surface level details. There are ideas of sexuality as well as family conflict that go largely and unsatisfactorily unexplored in any great depth. I kept waiting for something big or more influential to happen but that feeling never came. I enjoyed my time reading this (as much as anyone can, that is) but I don’t think this will be one that sticks with me. I’m generally a big fan of character pieces but this one didn’t strike a chord with me.
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