Just Read It: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

May 29, 2012 Books 12

I am in a predicament. It appears I am in a similar predicament to Margarie Ingall, who reviewed Code Name Verity for the New York Times.

I’m in a bit of a predicament. Oh, it’s not the predicament of a girl pilot who has crash-landed in occupied France during World War II, or of a girl spy who has been captured by the Gestapo, but it’s still problematic. I have to review a book in which even the hint of plot summary could ruin everything. – Code Name Verity review, New York Times

Yes, that is it exactly. How do you review such an intricately written and plotted novel without giving something away? The wrong word, the wrong sentence could GIVE SOMETHING AWAY. And that I could never forgive myself for. Code Name Verity is like a game of cat and mouse. Elizabeth Wein leads you through so many twists and turns… see, I feel like I’ve said too much already. Yet I feel like I have to say SOMETHING about what this book is about.

Okay. There are these two young women. I was never completely sure of their ages, but I’m pretty sure they were in their late teens. One is Jewish, British, raised by her grandparents, and incredibly mechanically gifted. The other is Scottish, privileged, extremely educated (she can speak, what? 4 languages?), and incredibly brazen and brave. The war effort and their part in the fight bring these two unlikely girls together and create fast, lifelong, best friends forever of the two. And their friendship, and journey, becomes nothing less than extraordinary.

It’s like being in love, discovering your best friend.

And as they say, they “make a sensational team.”

Rather than go anymore into the plot, I’m just going to tell you how this book made me feel and what I admire so much about it. Ganz gut? That means okay in German. And one of the things I love most about this book is the friendship between these girls. Normally I don’t read others reviews until I write my own, but I just had to know what others thought of this book, so I read a couple. And I see that they agree with me. We all love the depiction of such a loving, close-without-being-romantic, relationship between Maddie and Julie. It’s something I would love to see more of it literature. Too often, girls are depicted as being treacherous, back-stabbing, and just plain hateful to their own sex. It is so refreshing to see this relationship of friendship, sharing, caring, loving, and supporting of each other that these two share. I wish (hope?) to see more relationships like this in the future.

These two girls. You guys. These. Two. Girls. I have lived and breathed with them in the Gestapo headquarters. I was there, freezing, in the loft of an old French barn. I flew planes over the English channel. I learned who I was, what my strengths were, and used them in new, unexpected, and remarkable ways. I became BEST FRIENDS with these two and oh, my heart hurts to have left them. Seriously, I left a bit of my heart back there in WWII with these two. Elizabeth Wein has created two unique and completely unforgettable characters. I’m reminded of how I felt after reading the Diary of Anne Frank. Not that the stories have any similarities other than taking place during WWII, but they both left me with a feeling of experience. That in some small measure (very, very small), I experienced what life was like during WWII. The fear. The confusion. The fierce protection one feels for one’s country and one’s people. The feeling of wanting to do something, no matter how insignificant to make things better, to help one’s country, to help one’s people, to help the WORLD and being told that you’re a woman, you can’t do that. The frustration of it. The power of it, when you DO IT ANYWAY. I LOVE THESE GIRLS.

Okay, can I just go back to page one and start all over again?

Parts I loved:

The Northumbrian coast is the most beautiful length of the whole trip. The sun still sets quite late in the north of England in August, and Maddie on fabric wings flew low over the long sands of Holy Island and saw seals gathered there. She flew over the great castle crags on Lindisfarne and Bamburgh to the north and south, and over the ruins of the twelfth century priory, and over all the fields stretching yellow and green toward the low Cheviot Hills of Scotland. Maddie flew bak following the 70-mile 2,000-year-old dragon’s back of Hadrian’s Wall, to Carlisle and then south through the Lakeland fells, along Lake Windermere. The soaring mountains rose around her, and the poets’ waters glittered beneath her in the valley of memory-hosts of golden daffodils, Swallows and Amazons, Peter Rabbit. She came home by way of Blackstone Edge above the old Roman road to avoid the smoke haze over Manchester, and landed back at Oakway, sobbing with anguish and love; love, for her island home that she’d seen whole and fragile from the air in the space of an afternoon, from coast to coast, holding its breath in a glass lends of summer and sunlight. All about to be swallowed in nights of flame and blackout. Madded landed at Oakway before sunset and shut down the engine, then sat in the cockpit weeping.

SEE?

The glens were full of frost and fog. Fog lay in pillows in the folds of the hills; the distant mountaintops shone dazzling pink and white beneath rays of low sunshine that didn’t touch the Spitfire’s wings. The haar, the North Sea coastal fog, was closing in. It was so cold that the moist air crystallized inside the Plexiglas hood, so that it seemed to be lightly snowing in the cockpit.

I am purposefully giving the lovely bits that don’t give anything away. I haven’t highlighted a book so much since college. Unfortunately, I can’t share any more with you. I can only hope I have done enough to make you desperate to read this book. Go forth my love, and get this book. You can thank me later.

Also, watching the book trailer. This is one of my most favorite book trailers ever

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12 Responses to “Just Read It: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein”

  1. bermudaonion

    Wow, what a fantastic review! You've made me want to read the book!

    • Heather

      Thanks Kathy! I'm glad! I hope you do; I'd love to hear what you think of it.

  2. Debi

    *huge sigh* I just wrote a post about reading this book. And now reading your post makes the feelings I'm having even worse. What is wrong with me? What is wrong with me? What is wrong with me?
    One bright note on my part: The one thing I've highlighted thus far was the "It's like being in love, discovering your best friend." LOVE that.

    • Heather

      And I just commented on your post!! Go read it, listen to me, and all will be well. Because I am the great and power Oz. LOL ((((Debi))))

  3. diaryofaneccentric

    You've made me really excited about this book! My husband bought it for me for Mother's Day and it arrived last week. It's coming with me on my summer camping trip for sure! Sounds like I'm going to have a hard time reviewing it, though you did a great job. ;)

    • Heather

      Yay!!! I hope you do; I'd love to hear what you think. What a great way to spend a camping trip!!!

  4. Chris

    I cannot WAIT to read this!!! Though I'm scared because of how Debi's reacted so far :p I may "lend me" it from either you or Debs!

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