Cannonball Read V: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
An English teacher in my district known online as @thereadingzone recommended Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein to me during a Facebook discussion of the merits of Young Adult fiction last December. I reserved it at the library more out of duty than interest; after all, she took the time to discuss the genre and this book with me, so the least I could do was give the book a try.
I was hooked by page 4.
Code Name Verity is the story of a friendship between two women during World War II: upper class Scot and debutante, Julie, and working class Maddie. The two halves of the book tell the tale of how they meet, become friends, join the war effort, and are shot down over France during a rather unusual mission. Julie is captured by the Germans and Maddie dies in the crash. The first half of the book is Julie’s confession written on paper that varies from sheet music to unused recipe cards. She gives her captors what they want in return for her clothing and slightly better treatment. At the close of her section, it appears that the story of Julie and Maddie is over.
Until you turn the page.
As much as I want to, I can’t reveal any more of the plot without ruining the enjoyment of discovering just what happened to these young women yourself. Categorized as Young Adult fiction, the writing is anything but, with a complex plot line complete with twists I never saw coming along with a varied vocabulary - I had no idea “verity” also means “truth”. This is a love story, but not a romantic one. Rather, it’s the story of how two very different young women who would never meet, let alone become friends, during peace time come to love each other as they face the challenge and sacrifice of war time. The supporting cast is also sympathetic. There are no stereotypical Germans, British, or Americans characters, and even the most sinister of interrogators is also a father struggling with duty and conscience.
This exceptional book was written by an American living in Scotland who is also a pilot herself. It’s very apparent from the bibliography that she did extensive research regarding the roles of British (and Scottish) women during the Second World War. So many books and movies deal with the horrors of that time, but Code Name Verity has one thing I’ve yet to come across in those stories: the strength and friendship of women during wartime.
No matter how old or young you are, reserve a copy of Code Name Verity at the library today. I hope that you, like me, include this book on your best reads of 2013 list!
(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the amazon.com affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)
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