The War Outside
BY Monica hesse
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?
About the author
Monica Hesse is an author and journalist with The Washington Post. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and their dog.
"It was absolutely heartbreaking, and reading these characters made me feel so many emotions. They were so well developed and the writing in this story was so captivating and beautiful. This book also does highlight some LGBTQ+ elements, and I found it quite enjoyable in a historical fiction that takes place during WWII."
—Kathleen, Read Forever More
"What stood out to me the most is how these type of camps and these types of stories are so rarely talked about. I know this is just one story in an untold number that has finally found a voice. When I reached the end of the story and got to the last chapter, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I had goose flesh at the brilliance of Hesse's mind."
—Sara, A Gingerly Review
"It's raw, it's real, it's impactful. For about 80% of this book, all that was going through my head was simply just, wow. Giving this book anything less than five stars just feels wrong."
—Emmi, Emmi Rose Reads
"The War Outside is a rollercoaster of emotions. This novel highlights family, friendship and importantly, of understanding and basic humanity. It's so much more than a history lesson. With the twists, you don't see coming, this novel, and all the emotion it instills will keep you on your toes and unable to stop turning pages."
—Terrie, Just Another Book B*tch
"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."
—Jessica, Odd and Bookish
"Haruko and Margot's friendship is deep, transcends cultural barriers, and does not define their relationship along platonic or romantic lines. I know that this kind of storytelling is infuriating for some, but I always enjoy it when a writer let’s a bond speak for itself without definition."
—Kate, Snarky Yet Satisfying
"The War Outside is a worthwhile read. It reinforces lessons I already knew by heart and teaches me others that I will always keep with me."
"I think the two point of view gave a special something to the novel because the reader was able to see what the camp was like for both girls and their families. They were able to build this terrifying and unstable world for the reader that was real and heartbreaking. This was definitely a darker read, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed."
—Alex, The Blonde Bookworm