The War Outside - Monica Hesse

I received an ARC of this book for free from TheNovl in exchange for an honest review. Since I received an ARC, my quotes from the book are tentative. 

 

Last month I read a different YA novel about German American internment and was beyond disappointed by it. When I saw that TheNovl was offering a chance to read and review this book I jumped at the opportunity. Thankfully, The War Outside was a million times better than that other book I read.

 

This book was so heart wrenching and emotional. There was one incident towards the end that gave me chills and goosebumps. 

 

I loved the dual perspectives and how well the author put you into each girl’s shoes. I also enjoyed the author’s writing style. It flowed easily and sucked you into the story. 

 

I’m glad that the book showed both Japanese American and German American internment. I particularly liked that it discussed how being called the enemy was different for each group. At one point Haruko tells Margot, “I’m so sorry…that your father had to wake up and realize that you had become the enemy overnight. But a least you didn’t have to wake up and realize that other Americans had thought of you as an enemy all along” (148). She then explains, “the reason this imprisonment is hard to Margot’s father is because they didn’t know yet that this country was unfair…The West Coast Japanese had already given the government their shortwave radios, and they had already agreed to their curfew, eight PM to six AM, but it wasn’t enough, it was never enough. It was so easy for the government make those rules. You can’t hate someone all of a sudden. It takes practice. It takes a long time” (148). This is an idea that Margot revisits later in the book when imagining what it would be like to go back home to Iowa. She ponders, “Haruko was right the first time we talked. It was not like with the Japanese. where entire communities went away. With us it was like a scalpel: a German here, a German there, while the rest of the town went about their business” (207). These quotes showcase the idea of how we are not  free in America until we’re all free. Everyone’s freedom is in jeopardy if one group loses theirs. 

 

The ending was…WOW. It was one of the best endings I’ve read in a while. It left you thinking about all that happened between the girls and the motives behind their actions.  

 

I liked that the author included a note at the end about the history behind the story. It is evident that she did a lot of research and tried to make it as accurate as possible.  

 

Overall, this was an amazing and powerful novel whose ending will leave you questioning it all.