A fascinating historical novel about Hilde, an orphan who experiences Berlin on the cusp of World War II as she discovers her own voice and sexuality, ultimately finding a family when she gets a job at a gay cabaret, by award-winning author Kip Wilson.
On her eighteenth birthday, Hilde leaves her orphanage in 1930s Berlin, and heads out into the world to discover her place in it. But finding a job is hard, at least until she stumbles into Café Lila, a vibrant cabaret full of expressive customers. Rosa, one of the club’s waitresses and performers, immediately takes Hilde under her wing. As the café denizens slowly embrace Hilde, and she embraces them in turn, she discovers her voice and her own blossoming feelings for Rosa.
But Berlin is in turmoil. Between the elections, protests in the streets, worsening antisemitism and anti-homosexual sentiment, and the beginning seeds of unrest in Café Lila itself, Hilde will have to decide what’s best for her future . . . and what it means to love a place on the cusp of war.
Kip Wilson is the author of White Rose, which won the Malka Penn Award for Human Rights in Children’s Literature, and the Poetry Editor of the Young Adult Review Network. She has a Ph.D. in German Literature. She is also the winner of the PEN/New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award and her work has appeared in several children's literary magazines. She lives in Boston, MA. Find her online at www.kipwilsonwrites.com, on Twitter @kiperoo, and on Instagram @kipwilsonwrites.
"Book clubs will find a lot to discuss in Hilde’s story, and educators won’t need to work hard to generate conversations about equality, authoritarianism, and the role of minorities in democracy. The free-form verse is inviting and masterfully captures the mood and times in sparse poetry, making this work equally appealing for pleasure reading." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Wilson crafts a beautiful coming-of-age story that captures the joy of young independence against a backdrop of fear and foreboding on the precipice of the Third Reich. The story, as well as the author’s note and extensive resource list, highlights the positive, liberated experience of queer people in Weimar-era Berlin before its abrupt and devastating end...An essential purchase for YA collections; recommend to fans of Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo." — School Library Journal (starred review)
"This poignant verse novel packs its punches, allowing readers to feel the emotional highs and lows of the girl’s journey as she clings to a fraying thread of hope through impossibly hard times. Much like in Wilson’s White Rose, the historical setting is exquisitely done, weaving in references to popular culture...and providing well-researched insights into the relative freedoms queer people experienced during the Weimar Republic. Hilde is impressively relatable to a modern audience...queer teens may glean comfort in her Café Lila found family—but everyone could stand to gain from Hilde’s resilience against the odds in an uncertain world." — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
“The language is as shiningly beautiful as the leading characters, Hilde and Rosa, and an absolute pleasure to read. A brilliant addition to the canon of LGBTQ young adult literature.” — The Historical Novels Review, EDITOR’S CHOICE
"While Hilde’s predictable internal growth is disarmingly joyous, it’s the era’s politics—and their connection to the present day—that give the Cabaret-tinged story its urgent momentum. Readers eager to learn more about queer life in the Weimar era will find plenty of avenues to explore in the densely packed author’s note." — Publishers Weekly
"This first-person novel in verse moves along briskly, judiciously weaving in bits of Hilde's past and historical events. Hilde is a relatable, accessible protagonist, and readers will respond to her feelings of being an outsider, celebrate her hard-won successes, and reel from a few gut-punching betrayals. Ultimately hopeful, this is a story of growth and affirmation set in an intriguing time and place." — Booklist
"This gorgeous book will put your heart in your throat and tears in your eyes, and keep you rooting for its heroines against all the odds." — Sherri L. Smith, author of Flygirl and The Blossom and the Firefly
Praise for White Rose: ★ "[T]imely and relevant....This tale based on the real life of a young activist, supported by extensive back matter, belongs in all collections serving young teens." — School Library Journal (starred review)
Praise for White Rose: ★ "[M]oving and inspiring....this is a model of well-researched and riveting historical fiction." — Booklist (starred review)
Praise for White Rose: ★ "Real events made deeply personal in an intense, bone-chilling reading experience." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Wilson’s (White Rose, rev. 7/19) fluid free-verse novel aptly conveys the liberation and artistry of the time and place (Weimar Republic–era Berlin setting, in all its gritty, smoky glory), while also making the pages fly. Fans of Lo’s Last Night at the Telegraph Club (rev. 3/21) will enjoy this similarly themed work. Back matter includes an author’s note, selected sources, and a German glossary. by JENNIFER HUBERT SWAN — The Horn Book
"This beautifully realized novel in verse succeeds on every level—as a work of historical fiction vividly bringing the past to life, as a love story, as a story about overcoming one’s personal fears, and as a work illuminating chilling parallels between early-1930s Germany and Western society today. It’s also a story that celebrates community and family—both blood and found." — CCBC Choices 2023