Cover Image: To Die Beautiful

To Die Beautiful

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All World War II books are tear-jerkers, but this one had me audibly sobbing. The incredible bravery shown by the heroine until her last days was amazing and inspiring.

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Buzzy Jackson's "To Die Beautiful" is a historical fiction novel about the Dutch resister, Hannie Schaft. Schaft was a young woman when war came to her doorstep and she didn't hesitate to get involved and do something to help. I am always interested in stories about World War II, especially untold stories. I enjoyed the story, but it did feel a little long in certain places. The last 1/3 of the novel is when it really kicks into high gear. And please do not skip the author's note at the end.

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To Die Beautiful by Buzzy Jackson is a timely novel based on the true story of Dutch Resistance fighter Hannie Schaft. Schaft, a law student at the beginning of the Nazi occupation, searches to find herself and step outside of her sister’s shadow. She learns about loyalty, friendship and love. She finds the strength inside herself that has always been there. An ordinary girl that does extraordinary things. Hannie’s friend Philline, “Before the war I wasn’t political. After the war I discovered I can’t afford to not be political because politics is what killed us.”

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Based on the true story of Hannie Schaft, a young resistance member in Holland during WWII. Definitely one of the more intense and violent holocaust stories I have read. So sad.

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I love reading stories of real people who I've never heard of, however, I managed to miss that Hannie Schaft was, in fact, a real person. Had I been aware of that fact, I think I would've had an easier time getting through the slow start. Other than the slow start, however, Jackson has written an excellent story. While she admits the dearth of factual evidence about Schaft's life, her fictional account is believable and compelling, and her author's note does an excellent job of explaining her approach.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I'm not sure it is appropriate for my Florida high school library in our current climate. The powers that be wouldn't object to the multiple violent assassinations, but the few sexual encounters would have them all clutching their pearls. With that in mind, I highly recommend this book for older teens and young adults, particularly those who enjoy history and historical fiction.

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Quick and Dirty⁣
-WWII resistance novel⁣
-action-packed wartime read⁣
-Holocaust subplot⁣
-one of my top reads of 2023⁣

𝘐 𝘓𝘖𝘝𝘌 𝘞𝘞𝘐𝘐 𝘯𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘭𝘴, particularly resistance fiction. And if it's up to me, the more fighting the better. Sabotage, undercover activity, spies, and operatives all make for the most fun resistance fiction in my opinion. And Buzzy Jackson's debut novel has it all! Hannie is the epitome of a wartime hero, risking her life to save those she loves and to fight for what she believes is right. I adore strong female protagonists, so Jackson found her ideal reader in me, that's for sure. The book reminded me very much of Angels of the Resistance, my favorite read of 2022. I was hanging on every word of the whole book, eager to see what happened next and who betrayed who! This book is perfect for any historical fiction lover who isn't afraid of violence, wants a little romance with their action, and needs to see a woman take ownership of her story.

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Fighting Evil

When the Germans invaded Holland, Hannie Schaft was a law student thinking of a brilliant career. Then she saw the German atrocities and worried about what would happen to her Jewish friends. She joined the Dutch Resistance. With her red hair and audacious attitude she became one of the groups’ most feared assassins. Fearlessly she approached German officers and shot them at point blank range. Because of her exploits she became known as the Girl with the Red Hair. Even Hitler knew about her.

Hannie was a strong fearless woman and this book is based on the true story of her life. I have read many books about the second world war and the part female spies played, However, this is unquestionably one of the best. The book is extremely well researched. However, it reads like a thriller.

The first part of the book is rather slow going while the author skillfully builds her character, but the end is exciting to the point it’s hard to put it down. Although Hannie is the main focus of the story, the author did an excellent job of fleshing out the minor characters making them almost as unforgettable as Hannie. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy the history of WWII.

I received this book from Penguin Random House for this review.

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Hannie Schaft is a quiet student in Pre-World War II Amsterdam. She only really has a couple good friends and those girls are Jewish. When Germany takes over Holland (The Netherlands) she seeks to protect her friends by hiding them. Hannie also slowly joins the Resistance.

As war progresses and the Nazis become more and more dictatorial is her homeland, Hannie becomes more involved in the Resistance and becomes the "Girl with the Red Hair". As a woman she can get up close to targets and shoot them at point blank range, something a man would not be able to do.

I didn't know a lot about The Netherlands under Hitler, only that he tried to starve them, so this book was very informative. Hannie Schaft was a real person and this fictionalized story of her life held many facts. I appreciate a book that is so well researched, Buzzy Jackson did a wonderful job with the story.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

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Okay, so I think this book was just not for me? I mean, I enjoy books about this part of history and even more if its based on real people. But I was not able to connect with the writing, the story nor the characters... I think my problem its the novel, not the real facts (which, honestly kept me more interested than the novelisation). I just feel as if it was dramatisized to the max and bearing in mind that the holocaust is very dramatic by itself, this feels unnecesary.

One of my problems is the obsession with menstruation. I think I see where the author comes from, they want to give light to an issue that is ussually covered, hidden or even considered shameful. This I liked, but not the way it was portrayed. I think they make such a big deal out of it that it just feels too much. Again, I see the objective and the idea of it and I believe it is really important to shine light to this.

Another of my problems was the love interest. Why the obsesion with guns? I mean, I understand the necesity of fighting and protecting themselves when they are in the rebels side. But, my god, why so obsessed with it? Was it just me that felt that? Maybe I'm not so used to guns being portrayed soooo much, but it feels wierd. I would have liked to see other sorts of rebelion, make things difficult but not necessarily violent (mainly because they mention doing those things, but they never show them).

Overall, I liked the real facts, I enjoyed the biography of the characters at the end of the book. The novel... Not so much. Maybe it just wasn't for me.

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19 year old Hannie shy is quiet and studious. When the Nazi's occupy the Netherlands, she watches the world explode around her. Determined to do something, she joins the resistance movement. After one dangerous mission, the Nazi's begin calling her "The Girl with the Red Hair" and start hunting her.

This was wonderfully written story, and a great tribute to a heroine of WWII. The characters were well developed, multi-dimensional, and realistic. The plot moved quickly. Highly recommended!

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We often associate World War II and the Dutch with Anne Frank, but many Dutch people suffered grievously in that war. Hannie Schaft was a member of the Dutch Resistance and this story is about her and her colleagues. The afterward expanded upon some of the things for which she was responsible, and for this reader, they seemed to be of more value than what was related in the book. The story is also a cautionary tale of how important it is to plan carefully and to never ever drop your guard. Hannie and her colleague Jan could also have benefited if they had had a little less bravado. (Hannie had red hair. This reader wondered why she never concealed it, because it made her always easy to recognize and remember.) The Dutch Resistance played a very important role, but one wonders if the retaliations to what they did were worth the death of one collaborator. I highly recommend this for the picture of the Dutch experience during this horrific time. I received this as an arc from NetGalley, and am under no pressure for a positive review.

Ramona Thompson

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Very well researched historical novel. Having never heard of Hannie, this was quite an enlightening story. The people of the Netherlands endured a lengthy occupation of the Nazis. Hannie, an ordinary law student became a hero of the resistance as she became the girl with the red hair. This is an amazing recount of the crimes and cruelity of the Nazis and their collaborators. Recommended!

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4.5 stars
A riveting historical novel based on the true story of Johanna (Hannie) Schaft who was part of the Dutch Resistance during World War II - unputdownable!!

Hannie Schaft was a law student at university in Amsterdam in 1941 trying to continue her studies during the Nazi occupation of her country. As the situation in Amsterdam deteriorates for her two Jewish best friends, Hannie is driven to become an armed member of the Resistance in her hometown of Haarlem. Throughout the duration of the war, Hannie continues to put her life at risk as an assassin known to the Nazis as "the girl with the red hair" - so notorious that Hitler himself had her on his most wanted list.

This is such a powerful, heartrending story of courageous people who risked their lives to do the right thing. The historical research is impressive but the author has also crafted a thrilling pageturner that brings Hannie's story and her fight against fascism to life as well as her unwavering bravery and her determination to "stay human". The story is difficult to read at times because of the brutality and lack of humanity of the Nazis but important for us not to forget the suffering that was inflicted in The Netherlands and elsewhere. To Die Beautiful is an incredible debut novel by Buzzy Jackson - I hope she continues to write historical fiction.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.

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This Dutch resistance novel got me thinking, as a lot of things do right now, about what I'm doing to resist fascism. How would I sign up to shoot Nazis?!? It also go me thinking about the unfairness even between saviors and saved. Hannie, a Dutch Christian hid her two Jewish friends in her parents' house. Hannie faced danger every day, but she also had autonomy while her friends sole job was to survive (as Hannie insisted).

But about this book--it's the fictionalization of Dutch resistance hero Hannie Schaft's life during WWII. It's compelling and reads as if it could be close to the unembellished truth, but what do I know? I hadn't known much of anything about the Dutch resistance and how the country was starved for four years. Nazis and cops--the absolute worst!

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this was such a great novel in the historical fiction genre, it had a great concept and I was hooked from the first page. I enjoyed the way Buzzy Jackson wrote the plot and the characters, it worked well overall and I enjoyed how good it stayed in the timeline. I enjoyed what I read and can't wait for more from Buzzy Jackson.

"May I offer you a drink?” said Hendrik. “Don’t say no. There are no small victories in wartime.” He pulled a silver flask from his inside jacket pocket with a little grin. If he were a cat, he would have purred. He produced a second pristine handkerchief and offered it to me. “It’s all right, darling. You’re OK. We’re all friends now.” Jan looked proud of me."

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A historical novel very closely based on the life of Johanna “Hannie” Schaft, a spy and assassin for the Resistance.

I have read a great many WWII/Holocaust books and without fail, I cannot begin to comprehend what people went through. Then there are those such as Hannie that sacrifice everything. Where would we be without such amazing acts of selflessness and heroism?
A gripping read with twists and turns. Even a touch of romance.
If you like WWII novels, you can't miss this one. Don't forget to read the Afterward.


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Buzzy Jackson share with us the story of WWII Dutch Resistance Fighter Hannie Schaft.. Based on real events, Jackson introduces to Johanna (Hannie) Schaft. At the outset of the war she is a young law student but as the Nazis become ever more relentless in their pursuit of the Jews in Holland, Hannie becomes disgusted and worried about her two best friends, both Jews. Hannie's sister died at a young age of diphtheria and she doesn't want to lose any other people in her life.Hannie takes her friends home to her parents to hide them in Haarlem and begins working with the Dutch Resistance.

She learns to fire a gun, dress up and kill at close range, bomb, and even fall in love along the way with fellow resistance fighter Jan Bonekampf. Know only to the Nazis as 'the girl with the red hair,' Even after dying her hair black, she is eventually captured by the Germans, just as the war is coming to a close.

This book is a "don't miss" for fans of WWII fiction, historical fiction, and WWII literature in general. It sheds light on another little known story of an ordinary person stepping up and becoming a hero.

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Het meisje met het rode haar. The Girl with the Red Hair. She is feared by the Nazis as a brutal assassin. She is esteemed by the Resistance as a hero. Even Hitler himself, put her on his most wanted list. Hannie Schaft never intended to be any of those things. However, at a party one night, quiet, reserved, Hannie met Philine and Sonja; two women who will become her closest friends and change the course of her life forever. Gripping, brutal, and beautiful all at the same time, Buzzy Jackson’s “To Die Beautiful” is a haunting novel that will stay with the reader long after the last page has been read. Hannie is a typical law student in Amsterdam, living a quiet unobtrusive life, when the Nazi occupation of her homeland changes everything. Hannie must decide: stay quiet or resist, protect those she cares for or stand on the side lines as they disappear. The impossible choices she and fellow Resistance members must make are both daring and courageous. Throughout the novel, the war raging inside Hannie over choices she must make, is intense. A betrayal will put Hannie in the crosshairs of her most hated enemy- the Nazis. Will she survive the savage onslaught brought about by this betrayal? Will her heart mend after incredible loss? Is she willing to risk everything to save those she loves? This book was absolutely astounding. The horrors faced by everyone living in the Netherlands as the Nazi’s increased their vengeance against the Jews, is mind blowing. The absolute brutality against people, made various parts of the novel very difficult to read. However, we must never forget and shy away from what happened to some 100,000 Jews in the Netherlands and those that dared to resist. Hannie’s story is one of many incredible stories that tell about those that had an absolute disregard for their own life to save the life of another. I thank NetGalley and Penguin Group for the ARC of this book. All opinions within this review are my own.

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