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2021 Literary Escapes Challenge

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My Progress:


28 / 51 states. 55% done!

2021 Fall Into Reading Challenge

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2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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2021 Popsugar Reading Challenge

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33 / 50 books. 66% done!

Booklist Queen's 2021 Reading Challenge

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35 / 52 books. 67% done!

2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

The 52 Club's 2021 Reading Challenge

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39 / 52 books. 75% done!
Saturday, June 16, 2012

YA WWII Novel Unique—In A Good Way

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

There are two things books about World War II usually aren't:  snarky and upbeat.  Code Name Verity, a YA novel by Elizabeth Wein, happens to be both.  Maybe that's why it's such a different kind of read, one that's affecting and grim, but still almost funny.  You don't see that a lot—actually, you never see that—in stories about this time period.  Code Name Verity is unique and that's why I liked it.

The first half of the story is narrated by a young Scottish woman, whose ability to speak German makes her a perfect spy for England.  When the novel opens "Verity" has been captured by the Gestapo and is being held for questioning in Ormaie, France.  The Nazis have made it clear that if she does not reveal the nature of her mission, she will be executed.  After she's beaten and tortured, of course.  Given scraps of paper on which to write out her confession, Verity takes her time, spinning out tales like Scheherazade.  Since the SS officer in charge appreciates a good story, she gives him one.  As she writes about espionage, friendship, courage and cowardice, Verity fights for her life, one word at a time.   

Margaret "Maddie" Brodatt tells the second part of the story.  An English pilot, Maddie is used to making secret flights into enemy territory.  She's flown her friend Verity several times, always without incident.  Until now.  Now, Verity has been captured and Maddie's hiding out in a leaky barn in Nazi-held France.  Scribbling her own notes, Maddie talks about her childhood, her lifelong desire to fly airplanes, her friendship with Verity, her fears of being courtmartialed—or, even worse, being captured like Verity.  Although she doesn't practice her religion, Maddie's Jewish ancestry could still land her in a Nazi death camp.

As the two women write their histories, a remarkable story emerges—one of adventure, one of bravery, one of hope and one of friendship that transcends the horrors of war.

Although Code Name Verity is being promoted as a YA book, I don't see it appealing to teens really.  Not that it lacks action or intriguing characters or even a sarcastic, foul-mouthed narrator—it has all that.  But it's still kind of an old-fashioned book.  Action-packed and absorbing and entertaining, for sure, just in a vintage kind of way.  Does that make any sense?  Probably not.  No matter.  Suffice it to say, I enjoyed this unique and powerful WWII novel.  It's different—in the very best kind of way.  

(Readalikes:  Reminded me a bit of Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith)

Grade:  B

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  R for language (a handful of F-bombs, plus milder invectives), violence/scenes of peril, and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Code Name Verity from the generous folks at Hyperion.  Thank you!

       
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