Life After High School

1 Jul

Yesterday afternoon, I attended my niece’s high school graduation. It was a  well run ceremony for the 178 grads. They did a couple of things I’d never seen done before. The program not only listed each grad’s name, but their plans for the next phase in their life and the awards, if any they were receiving. Here’s my niece’s page.

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I realize you can’t read the text, but I wanted you to see her space. She is the first name on the page and won a lot of awards. The phone call from the high school said she was winning “an award” so it was a surprise to everyone, my niece and her parents, that she won so many. She was also one of three who delivered the valedictory address. I was a proud auntie! I only cried once. As I read over her awards, one of them stood out to me: the Unity Masonic Lodge Award for the Social Sciences. I couldn’t help but thinking how proud my dad, her grandpa, a lifelong Freemason, would have been to see that.

Not everyone in her graduating class are of to a post secondary experience. Some are entering apprenticeship programs. Some are going straight into work. Some will be traveling and others are returning for a victory lap.

Hanneke , the main character in The Girl in the Blue Coat, by Monica Hesse, doesn’t attend university after high school as she had planned.

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It is 1943 and the Germans have occupied Amsterdam. Rather than pursuing higher education, which seems pointless to Hanneke in such a mad world, she gets a job that leads her into becoming a black marketeer.

Publisher’s Summary:Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.

On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman’s frantic plea to find a person–a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action.
Beautifully written, intricately plotted, and meticulously researched, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, gripping novel from a bright new voice.
This is the book I read, cover to cover as I flew from Portland to Toronto earlier this week.  I highly recommend it.

 

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