Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin by Kip Wilson

The year is 1932 in Berlin and now that Hilde is eighteen, she must leave her orphanage and set out on her own. She quickly discovers, however, that finding a job is near impossible in these economically depressed times. But fate intervenes one night when she meets Rosa, who brings Hilde to Café Lila where she meets a cast of characters that soon become her chosen family. 

As Berlin falls further and further into the authoritarian grip of the Nazis who are scapegoating Jews and the queer community, Hilde along with the employees and patrons of Café Lila continue to remain quietly hopeful and defiant... until trouble comes loudly knocking on their door. 

Just as the title suggests, this YA historical fiction in verse by Kip Wilson is dazzling.  Berlin is my favorite city on earth, mostly because there has always been a provocative, defiant, avant-garde, and counter-cultural energy about it. That was true in 2004 when I visited for the first time, and it was certainly true when this novel takes place. 

But just as this book is a window into 1930s Germany, it's also an alarming mirror to societies, including American society, that allow idealogues and populists to rise to power. 

In addition to being a cautionary historical fiction in verse, The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin is also a gentle queer/lesbian love story, which is a much-needed addition to the canon of LGBTQ+ YA fiction, which seems to lean more heavily towards male romance. Because this book is many things (historical fiction, novel in verse, queer romance, a cautionary tale for modern times), there would be potential in the hands of a less adept writer for this book to have taken on too much. But never fear, dear reader, Kip Wilson manages to weave all of these elements perfectly and seamlessly. 

The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin by Kip Wilson*
Published: March 29, 2022
Publisher: Versify
Pages: 416
Genre: Historical Fiction/LGBTQ+ Romance
Audience: Young Adult
Disclosure: Advance listening copy provided by publisher

*Purchasing the book from the above Bookshop affiliate link supports independent bookstores and gives me a small percentage of the sale. 

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