Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Last Year of the War” as Want to Read:
The Last Year of the War
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Last Year of the War

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  5,189 ratings  ·  1,036 reviews
From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and As Bright as Heaven comes a novel about a German American teenager whose life changes forever when her immigrant family is sent to an internment camp during World War II.

Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943--aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for ne
ebook, 400 pages
Published March 19th 2019 by Berkley Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Last Year of the War, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Judi Ross Eventually there is a marriage between a Japanese and Caucasian but it is not integral to the story.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,189 ratings  ·  1,036 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Miranda Reads

"It's all right, my dear," I tell her. "It's all right. I'm dying, too."
Elise Sontag lives with her mother, father and younger brother in Iowa.

Her parents are from Germany and as the 1940s roll through, the witch hunt for the Nazi's is under way.
No one said anything to one another. We were tired. We were stunned. We were captives.
Thousands of Japan-born, Italian-born and German-born citizens are rounded up and their lives are stolen from them in US based internment camps.
There were concerts. Movies. It was like
Angela M
Mar 28, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5 stars rounded up
I wanted to read this because of the importance of the subject matter. The internment of innocent people, many of whom were America citizens during WWII and the affect of that on families, a sad and shameful part of our history that is not often talked about. Up front, I have to say that overall I was disappointed. It just doesn’t measure up to other books that I’ve read dealing with the internment camps - Snow Falling on Cedars and When the Emperor Was Divine. Somethin
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
As soon as I found out that Ms. Meissner had a new novel coming out, I was very excited to receive an arc to review. I’ve been looking forward to this one. I’m sorry to say that I was disappointed.

This is a 3* mainly because I learned some history, liked the last of the book but then didn’t like the very ending :( does that make any sense to you. I think part of the strength of As Bright As Heaven was definitely in it’s well described characters and of course the Spanish flu epidemic and myste
Susanne  Strong
2.75 Stars* (rounded up)

Have you ever waited with bated breath for an author’s new book to come out only to be disappointed? Unfortunately, that happened to me with Susan Meissner’s new novel “The Last Year of The War.”

Elise Sontag is a German girl. Her family arrives at the Internment camp and there, she meets Mariko Inoue, a Japanese American. Both families are deemed traitors of war. The bond these two teenagers form is immeasurable. When Elise and her family are traded back to Germany duri
Mary Beth *Traveling Sister*
Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943--aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.

The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mar
Holly  B
A story of two girls that began a long friendship during World War II when their families were sent to an internment camp.

Elise Sontag was German-American and her friend, Mariko Inoue, was Japanese-American. Together, they hold on to their American identities and dream of one day returning and living the American dream in Manhattan. Elise struggles to understand the circumstances surrounding her father being accused of being a Nazi sympathizer.

I was engrossed in parts tha
Katie B
I love how this historical fiction book explored the topic of internment camps in World War 2 as it's something you don't see very often in the genre. To be quite honest it's basically a "let's just pretend it didn't happen" type subject here in the United States. I grew up in the 80s and 90s and I don't ever remember talking about it in school. So I'm glad this author decided this was a story worth telling.

It's 1943 and fourteen year old Elise Sontag is living in Iowa with her paren
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Susan Meissner’s characterization continues to be tops. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Elise Sontag is a fourteen-year-old growing up in Iowa in the early 1940s. The war is in full swing, and she knows it, but she feels safe because of her distance from it.

Elise’s father is an immigrant to the United States, living in the country for over twenty years, when he is arrested for being a Nazi sympathizer.

The family is moved to an interment camp in Texas where they live like prisoners. Elise has lost everything she held close
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Last Year of the War, Elise Sontag is a 14 year old living in Iowa when her German father is arrested for allegedly being a Nazi sympathizer. Elise, her mother, and brother are eventually reunited with her father at an internment camp in Texas. This is a difficult time for the Sontag family and tensions are high at the camp, with rules and regulations in effect. While there, Elise meets Mariko, a Japanese American girl from California, who is also at the camp with her family. The girls form a ...more
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, book-besties, 2019
A heartbreaking tale about the atrocities of war, and one girl who never allowed the cruelty of war to break her spirit!

It never ceases to amaze me how tragic, horrifying, and devastating war is! This was my very first book from Susan Meissner, but will definitely not be my last! This book completely captivated me, I was fully invested in the lives of all these characters from first page to last. I did have prior knowledge of the Japanese internment camps during WWII, however I did not realize
Diane S ☔
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it
I loved her last book, but will this one I had trouble.

What I liked

It started out strong, an elderly Elise, suffering from Alzheimers, gives it a name. Thought that was inventive.
The way she found with said issue.
The description of the family relocation camping in Texas during WWII.
The history behind the camp.
The friendship between the two girls.

What I wish had been better

The connection i couldn't feel, always felt I was viewing the story f
Norma * Traveling Sister
3.5 Stars!

Compelling, meticulously detailed & affecting!

THE LAST YEAR OF THE WAR by SUSAN MEISSNER is an interesting, thought-provoking and a touching historical fiction novel that explored a topic that I have not previously read before. To be honest I wasn’t even really aware of this heartbreaking part of history where innocent American families were sent to internment camps during World War II. I definitely learned something and for that I was quite intrigued and ta
Brenda -Traveling Sister host of The Traveling Friends
3.5 Stars

A German- American girl, a Japanese-American girl, an American internment camp, and an empowering friendship.

The Last Year of the War explores a dark and overlooked part of US history that I didn’t know anything about. Told through vivid historical details we learn the fear and pain of a family sent to an American internment camp. We are told how they lost their freedom and identity and one girl’s fight to gain it back.

I really appreciated the histori
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A deeply affecting and beautifully written historical fiction story of a family of German immigrants interned during WWII.

Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943. Her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, she meets fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles. Their friendship empowers them both to belie
Amy Bruestle
I was sent this book after winning it from a giveaway, to read in exchange for an honest review. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wow! I am at a loss for words...this book was probably one of the best books that I have read in a LONG time. Full of meaning. Full of life. Full of everything that a book should be full of! I could go on and on about how much I loved reading this, or about how much is actually incorporated into this novel, but I am just going to keep it short and recommend that you all find out for yourself! Yo
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Susan Meissner has yet to disappoint me! It was an engaging story spread throughout different locations and across several years. The places described in the book were so easy to picture. Although this book covered some intense situations I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and learning in the process. Every step of the way the characters drew me in and made me want to continue the journey. This was a great story of hope, strength, love and bonds. If you decide to pick this book up be prepared for s ...more
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
Release Date: March 19, 2019

Elise Sontag is a German American teenager living in Iowa during World War 2. Her parents have lived in the US for twenty years but are not legal citizens. While the war in Europe is escalating, her father is arrested and charged with being a Nazi sympathizer. Rather than being seperated, the entire family is interned at a government camp in Crystal City, Texas.

Life at the camp becomes bearable when Elise befriends Mariko Inoue, a Japanese Amer
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

A friendship made in an internment camp during WWII that lasted only eighteen months, but bonds and memories that lasted a lifetime.

Elise and Mariko met during WWII while attending school in an internment camp for Japanese and German Americans.

We follow both girls through their eighteen months in the camp as well as after even though the friends never saw each other again until they were older adults. They tried to connect with each other, but they never were able to.

Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Susan Meissner has become one of my favorite writers & I have absolutely loved all of her novels thus far. This novel, however, was just ok for me. It seemed to lack Meissners usual character development & seamless storytelling. The story lost my interest a bit in the middle which surprised me because this part should’ve been the most engaging. Just felt disjointed and fragmented. Not bad just not what I’ve come to expect from her. Still a big fan and i definitely look forward to her nex ...more
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1943 when she was 13 years old, Elise Sontag was sent to an internment camp in Texas with her entire family. Her parents were born in Germany and despite 20 years in America, they were investigated and interred as possible Nazi sympathizers. It was the last year of World War II. Many of German, Japanese, and Italian descent were being forced into camps. Elise was born in America, but it didn't matter. She spent 18 months in the camp and then her entire family was sent to Germany. They were ex ...more
♥ Sandi ❣
3.5 stars Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for allowing me to read and review this ARC. Published March 19. 2019.

This being my first read of a Susan Meissner book I have no past references for comparison. However, with that said, I found this book to be very enjoyable. I enjoyed the way she moved her characters back in time to tell their story. I was pleasantly surprised to see she used a town very familiar to me to base the life of one character's childhood. Everything she spoke a
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
**Happy publication week to this one, I rated it 5 stellar stars

I simply loved this book and the characters that Susan Meissner brings to life, by the end of the book they felt like old friends. The historical research is evident but seamlessly woven into a very realistic story. There are broad themes of friendship, love, identity, family loyalty, the damages of war -- all with an important historical backdrop.

We meet Elise Sontag when she is an elderly woman and then lea
Mary Jackson _TheMaryReader
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Are you ready for a history lesson like no other? I fell into this book and ate up every page of this friendship and the rich history. A historical drama you are not soon going to forget.
Elise begins her journey to find Mariko and we get a look into her life.
My hope is that everyone gets to read this work of art.
Elise's was taught that people are all the same, regardless of race, religion, where they are born.
4 stars and I recommend it.
The Mary Reader received this
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Last year I fell in love with Meissner’s gorgeous writing style after reading As Bright As Heaven and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her latest book. I’m beginning to realize she has a knack for writing about specific historical topics that are not common and anytime I can learn something new while I’m reading I’m excited!

This follows Elise, an American girl whose parents are German immigrants and is told solely from her point of view and spans over the course of almost her entir
Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)
Absolutely breathtaking. Beautifully told and so heartbreaking lovely, The Last Year of the War is a book that will not only open your eyes but touch your soul.

Poignant, heart wrenching, and so very moving, it is a book that I am so very glad I took the time to read.

Meissner has always impressed me with her beautifully written and thought out stories but she truly stunned with this The Last Year of the War.

I can't even begin to explain how touching this story was and how
Apr 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
**2.5 stars rounded up**

Heavy sigh. Heavy, heavy sigh.

The Last Year of the War is the story of Elise and Mariko, who first meet in Texas in 1943 at the height of WWII. Both Elise and Mariko are young girls, born in America. Their parents are from Germany (Elise) and Japan (Mariko). Although both families have been in the U.S. for many years, unfortunate circumstances coupled with mistakes and past connections lead to both families ending up at an internment camp in Texas. Here, Elis
Stephanie (Stephanie's Novel Fiction~on hiatus))
2.5 Stars rounded down

I hate rating this book so low, but I never could quite get into it and never connected with the characters or the plot. I even set the book aside for a few weeks after trying to read it for over a month hoping that trying to read it fresh would give me another luck! I felt throughout the book that Meissner was doing much too much telling me what she wanted me to know about her story instead of showing me, and that became very tedious. As much a
Linda Zagon
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lindas Book Obsession Reviews “The Last Year of the War” by Susan Meissner, Berkley, March 2019

WOW! WOW!WOW! Susan Meissner, Author of “The Last Year of the War” has written an amazing, unique, riveting, captivating, intense, heart-breaking, emotional and intriguing novel. Susan Meissner describes vividly the characters, events and landscape in a period in United States History that is often not openly discussed as it should be. The Genres of this Novel and Historical Fiction and Fic
I have read and loved Susan Meissner’s other books but The Last Year of the War is her best work yet! Flashing from present day to World War II, The Last Year of the War is a beautiful, compelling story of hope and strength as the world around seems to crumble. A must read for historical fiction fans!
Lisa Wolf
The Last Year of the War is the moving story of true friendship that lasts a lifetime, despite years of separation. Told through the eyes of Elise, the story opens in 2010 when Elise is in her 80s, suffering from the losses associated with Alzheimers, feeling pieces of herself and her life being stolen away from her. When her housekeeper teaches her to use Google, Elise uses it to look up her friend Mariko, a girl she last saw during the last year of World War II. And having found her, Elise decide ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Mistress of the Ritz
  • Woman 99
  • In Another Time
  • Home for Erring and Outcast Girls
  • Resistance Women
  • Meet Me in Monaco
  • The Beautiful Strangers
  • The Chelsea Girls
  • American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt
  • The Island of Sea Women
  • The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
  • Lost Roses (Lilac Girls #2)
  • The Wartime Sisters
  • The Glovemaker
  • When We Left Cuba
  • The Beantown Girls
  • Park Avenue Summer
  • American Duchess: A Novel of Consuelo Vanderbilt
See similar books…
Susan Meissner was born in San Diego, California, the second of three. She spent her childhood in just two houses.
Her first writings are a laughable collection of oddly worded poems and predictable stories she wrote when she was eight.

She attended Point Loma College in San Diego, and married her husband, Bob, who is now an associate pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves
“We do not become different people as we age; we just add layers of experience onto who we already are.” 3 likes
“Sometimes what you want is given to you in a way that is so very different from how you had pictured getting it” 1 likes
More quotes…