The War Outside by Monica Hesse

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from TheNovl! Thanks! All opinions are my own.


Rating: 5/5


Genre: YA Historical Fiction


Recommended Age: 14+ (violence, bombs, war, prejudice, Nazism, and consequences)


Pages: 336


Author Website


Amazon Link


Synopsis: 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?


Oh. My. God. Can I just say this is one of my favorites of 2018?? Definitely going to be a very popular book in the near future! This book was outright stunning. It discussed an event in history that many history books seem to gloss over. It incorporated a lesbian romance. It expertly showed prejudice on multiple levels and sides. And at the end it was hard to say who was right (and no I don’t mean between the Nazis and everyone else). The character development was strong and amazingly well done. The plot was intriguing and entertaining. The pacing was spot on. And from what I could research in the short time I’ve had it seemed to stick with the facts much better than another book I’ve read on WW2 that we shall not name and only side-eye.


The only issue I have is that the book didn’t feel complete (which might be for a reason) and the book could have tackled some more of the tough topics head on, but for what we got I think it was absolutely amazing.


Verdict: I loved this book. And it loved me too.

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