Wein, E. (2012). Code name Verity. New York: Hyperion. ISBN: 9781405258210
Annotation: A female English spy is arrested by the Nazis in France, and in order to end her torture, she agrees to write a full confession of everything she knows about wartime England.
Reaction: I don’t remember when I first heard about Code Name Verity, but I remember that I KEPT hearing about it. It was on many “Best of 2012” lists and many people were recommending it, which meant that I needed to read it. It’s finally due at the library while Feller and I are on vacation, finding me madly reading to finish before we leave.
As ever, I didn’t know much going into the book, but the story, while a bit confusing at first trying to figure out just what is going on, is engrossing, and hearing Queenie (to use the name by which we first know her) tell about Maddie’s career and experiences and their friendship is a delight. In fact, I really love that we find out the most about each girl from the other. We get honest depictions of their personalities and their strengths and weaknesses from a person who loves them, and the admiration each girl has for the other comes across very clearly.
I love that Wein wrote about a female pilot and spy in England during WWII. She created characters and an atmosphere that is totally believable and compelling. These girls live exciting, dangerous lives, and they’re helping their country during a terrifying time in England’s history. Queenie’s account of her torture is awful to read, and her bravery in the face of her dismal odds is inspiring. Maddie’s account is just as heartbreaking as she finishes the story Queenie begins.
I think this book would be great in conjunction with a middle school unit about WWII. Wein includes information about her some of her research in the Acknowledgements as well as a bibliography for readers interested in learning more about female pilots or spies during this time period. I always feel super inspired to read more about the subject matter after wonderful historical books like this, and I think this is the kind of book that could really inspire kids to read more on their own as well. This book has some mature themes: violence, torture and some mild swearing, so I wouldn’t give it to anyone under 13.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was moving, heartbreaking, inspiring, beautiful, exciting, suspenseful and tragic. This is a great book to finish off 2012 and start 2013, and I’m so glad I made the effort to read this. This book has made My Top Ten Favorites.
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2012
School Library Journal’s Best Books of the Year 2012
Booklist Books for Youth Editors’ Choice
Library Journal’s Best YA Books for Adults
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year 2012
Goodreads 2012 Choice Awards Nominee