The War Outside

THE WAR OUTSIDE

Monica Hesse

A stunning novel of conviction, friendship, and betrayal from Monica Hesse, the Edgar Award-winning and bestselling author of Girl in the Blue Coat.

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,

more …

A stunning novel of conviction, friendship, and betrayal from Monica Hesse, the Edgar Award-winning and bestselling author of Girl in the Blue Coat.

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?

less …
  • Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Hardcover
  • September 2018
  • 336 Pages
  • 9780316316699

Buy the Book

$17.99

indies Bookstore indies Bookstore

About Monica Hesse

Monica HesseMonica Hesse is the bestselling author of Girl in the Blue Coat and American Fire, as well as a journalist with The Washington Post. She lives outside Washington, D.C. with her husband and their dog.

Author Website

Praise

“Once again, Monica Hesse delivers an incredibly compelling and beautifully researched novel. The War Outside vividly brings readers into an underrepresented and dark period of American history. A must-read for fans of historical fiction.”Ruta Sepetys, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“…superb….A satisfying and bittersweet novel, perfect for those who enjoyed Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.”SLJ, starred review

“…an extraordinary novel of injustice and xenophobia based on real history.”Booklist, starred review

“…a moving book that successfully describes an unjust aspect of U.S. History”Publishers Weekly, starred review

Discussion Questions

1. In the first chapter, Haruko’s mom tells their family’s story (pages 4-5). Why do you think her mom left out that her father worked at the nicest hotel?

2. Why do you think the internment camp separates the German and Japanese prisoners, despite placing them in the same camp?

3. Margot refers to Haruko as “the lavender girl” several times throughout the book. What might be the significance of the color lavender?

4. On page 48, Haruko recalls the moment her family got removed from their home. She suspects that her father is hiding something from her. Why do you think he waits so long to confess to Haruko? Do you think she would have done something about it?

5. What do you think would have happened if Margot and Haruko were ever discovered in the icehouse together?

6. All of Ken’s letters come with parts that are censored by the government. What do you think was written in those letters, especially since Ken knows that the letters get screened before it gets to his family?

7. On page 193, Haruko and Ken repeat lines from posters they saw in their childhood: “Loose lips might sink ships/An enemy’s ear might be near/Stop all loose talk to strangers.” What significance do these lines hold? How are they foreshadowing?

8. How do you make sense of the scene where Mike, the tower guard who befriended Haruko, defends the lifeguard?

9. Margot’s father’s distrust in America intensifies to the point where he signs their family up to go back to Germany, even though their home is in Iowa. What factors do you think contributed to this?

10. At the end of the book, Haruko and her family are deported to Japan. Margot is the reason behind it. Do you think Margot was right in not explaining to Haruko why she did what she did?

11. While this novel takes place during World War II, what parallels can you make between the events in the book and the world today?