Read This Book: CODE NAME VERITY
I have told the truth. I have told the truth. I have told the truth. I have told the truth.
It's going to be hard to talk about Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity without revealing any of the beautiful surprise that is this novel. I read the book without knowing a thing about it, and that's just the way I'd like to recommend it to you. Even the two-sentence summary at Amazon reveals more than I knew when I started this book, and I'm glad that I didn't read the synopsis until today.
So here's what you need to know, and not a word beyond that:
Wein tells the story of a Scottish wireless operator, Queenie, and a British pilot, Maddie, who forge an unshakable friendship against the backdrop of World War II. The book opens with Queenie being detained in a grand French hotel that's been transformed into a Nazi prison - and from there, she writes her "confession": a heartening, and occasionally heartbreaking, account of her friendship with Maddie, and the amazing challenges the two faced as wartime women doing the work of men.
Wein, in her own author's afterword (or "Debriefing"), maintains the plausibility of every historical detail contained herein - and Wein, herself, is a pilot, adding a tangible authenticity to the descriptions of Maddie's breathtaking flights and more earthbound mechanical repairs. That matters, but what matters more is the inarguable plausibility of Queenie and Maddie themselves, two brilliant, courageous, dead clever women who seem impossibly charming and yet wholly real.
It's also, technically, a young adult novel, but it would be a mistake to let that deter you. In fact, if you're the kind of person who might be deterred by a YA label, then Code Name Verity is just exactly the book you should read, because it will show you how mature and profound and gorgeously written YA fiction can sometimes be. It's that rarest of things, a girls' adventure book, but more than that, it's a book for people - for anyone who admires bravery, or who treasures a friendship.
It's riveting, plotted with a wicked cleverness that isn't entirely revealed until the final chapter. It's powerful and funny and so, so beautiful. Read Code Name Verity. But don't read anything else about it first.