The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin

The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin cover
The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin by Kip Wilson

By Kip Wilson
Versify, 2022
416 pages

Age 14 and older

On her own in 1932 Berlin, Hilde, 18, feels bereft and abandoned after aging out of the orphanage were she’s been living, and not hearing a word from her girlfriend, Gretchen, since Gretchen left months before. Hilde finds refuge one night in Cafe Lila, where a waitress named Rosa gets Hilde a job. Hilde feels right at home at Café Lila, a gay nightclub, and dazzled by kind and beautiful Rosa, who invites Hilde to stay with her and her aunt. The rise of the National Socialist Party and Adolf Hitler start out in the background of this story, in which Hilde struggles to overcome her stage fright to perform at Café Lila, and to overcome her fear of rejection and tell Rosa how she feels. But even as Hilde rises to these personal challenges, the escalating tensions around the elections, and Nazi attitudes toward Jewish people (Rosa and her aunt are Jewish) and gay people, become an ever-increasing threat to both young women and the communities they are part of.  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 Germany in the early 1930s and western society today. It’s also a story that celebrates community and family—both blood and found.  ©2022 Cooperative Children’s Book Center