Jessika is an upstanding schoolgirl in the English countryside of the Greater German Reich.
It’s been almost 75 years since Germany invaded—that is, since Operation Seelöwe liberated England from the filthy refugees on Britain’s shores. Jess focuses on ice-skating, youth group, and enjoying the next few years before she settles down with a husband. It’s awkward that she wants to kiss her best friend, Clementine, but she can fix that, somehow. But why does Clementine make everything difficult, saying disruptive things about freedom and showing off her illegal CD player? Still, it must be a mistake when Clementine has a scheduled sterilization; isn’t that operation just for “proper idiot girls…deaf ones too, the deformed ones”? Jess chooses naiveté, revealing her world through the negative space of what she doesn’t say. Through a jumping timeline, Jess details the events building up to a concert and its tragic aftermath: brutal medical treatment for the “blip” in her affections, black triangle badges, a re-education camp. (“I was here to work, and that work would set me free.”) The setting, with its brainwashing, personality cults, and information seclusion from the rest of the world, evokes contemporary North Korea.
Readers who know their World War II history and enjoy extremely unreliable narrators will find great satisfaction in puzzling out the truth behind the horrors Jess leaves unspoken. (Alternate history. 15-adult)