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The War Outside


The War Outside

Monica Hesse returns with THE WAR OUTSIDE --- a look into Japanese-German internment camp through the eyes of two young girls who live in the camp. Before THE WAR OUTSIDE, Monica Hesse has written four other books: two sci-fi books BURN and STRAY, a true crime love story AMERICAN FIRE and a historical mystery called GIRL IN THE BLUE COAT --- which won the Edgar Award. Other than writing books, Monica Hesse is a journalist who has written about everything from politics to dog shows and all that’s in between and has won the Society for Feature Journalism's Narrative Storytelling award and been finalists for other awards.

"THE WAR OUTSIDE is an incredible story.... The way the book is told is beautiful, and what happens leaves you thinking about it long after you have finished the book."

THE WAR OUTSIDE is set in 1944 United States and follows two girls who are stuck in Crystal City --- an internment camp for Japanese and German families. Haruko is convinced her father did something to cause her family --- minus her brother, Ken, who’s overseas ---- to have to be brought to this terrible place. If he wasn’t guilty, then why didn’t he protest when the soldiers came to take him? Now she’s stuck in Crystal City, Texas, in the middle of the desert away from her friends and the rest of civilization and stuck with Nazis. Margot, meanwhile, is convinced her family does not belong here. Her father went to one interest meeting to be polite, and now soldiers have taken her family to this horrible place where there are restrictions what you can do, where you can be and what you can read.

Then, following a dust storm, Haruko and Margot are brought together and stuck together in an ice house. After that chance meeting, a tentative friendship slowly begins to grow. Soon their friendship begins to grow and the girls become each other’s one thing keeping them through the camp and their struggles. But in a place so dark and horrible, can anything beautiful grow or even last?

THE WAR OUTSIDE is an incredible story. Having both Margot and Haruko alternate the telling made the story even more deep and personal. The way the book is told is beautiful, and what happens leaves you thinking about it long after you have finished the book. THE WAR OUTSIDE tells a story that most Americans still try to ignore but one that so badly needs to be told. It’s important not only to expose America for these infringements of justice of Japanese and German people, but also to tell the stories of how the Japanese-Americans and even some German-Americans suffered when America entered World War II. THE WAR OUTSIDE cannot be read without stopping to not only breathe but also to think about how this could have happened --- especially in a place like America, where we take pride in being open and welcoming. In writing this book, Hesse makes sure that we acknowledge that the internment camps did happen and that we never do anything like it again.

If you enjoy history and/or want to learn more about America during World War II, THE WAR OUTSIDE by Monica Hesse is perfect for you. THE WAR OUTSIDE may be fiction, but the situations in it are not and the story of Haruko, Margot and their friendship will remain in your mind long after you’ve finished the book and will keep you thinking.

Reviewed by Rebecca D., Teen Board Member on October 16, 2018

The War Outside
by Monica Hesse

  • Publication Date: September 25, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0316316695
  • ISBN-13: 9780316316699