Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Leah Courtney

I'm honestly not sure why I picked this book to review.  The book description caught my eye.  It's about World War 2, one of my favorite historic time periods about which to read.  It is published by Disney/Hyperion Press and marketed as a young adult book.  I'm always looking for good reads to pass on to my middle schoolers.  But, when I began my reading, I was close to admitting I had made a mistake.  Thinking I wasn't going to like the book made me a little sorry that I had chosen it.  I don't ever want my bias to cause me to give a bad review.  But, I just wasn't feeling it.

And then I was drawn in.  Code Name Verity is written as a diary, two diaries actually.  Two diaries of two dear friends.  Julie, code name Verity, we find from the beginning, is being held captive by the Germans in German occupied France.  While my heart went out for this young woman, held and tortured by Nazi leaders, I still wasn't really into the story.  There were technical flying terms thrown in (her best friend was the pilot of the plan that crashed leading to Verity's capture).  There were names and places thrown in.  I just wasn't feeling a connection.  But, as I read the diary, I began to feel it.  I was drawn to this beautiful, intelligent, young woman.  I wanted a happy ending for her.  I knew her.

And the story shifts.  And we get to read Maddie's story.  Maddie was the pilot of the fateful flight that crashed causing her best friend Julie to bail out over German occupied France. And then I know Maddie.  I felt her pain and anguish also.  I felt her fear.

I don't normally have such a physical response to a story, even a very well written one.  I often cry at a sad (or happy) ending.  But, my response to Code Name Verity was overwhelming.  I knew these girls.  I felt what they were feeling.  I experienced what they were experiencing.  I cried, uncontrollably.  I smiled through my tears.  I won't reveal any of the (VERY) dramatic twists and turns.  But, I was drawn in, beyond my control.

To make the story even more real (and perhaps to give me time to settle my raging emotions) the author has included some historical information and a bibliography to show the reader that, although this story may be fiction, there is definite historical fact that it could have happened.  To remind us that horrible atrocities did happen.  To bring to our attention the brave men and (especially) women who fought against them.  Lest we forget.

I give this one an overwhelming 5 stars.  I would give it a PG13 rating.  I plan to give it to my middle schoolers but only with much discussion.  It is violent and dark in many places.  There is some bad language.  But, it is necessary.  The story needs to be heard.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Leah Courtney / Author & Editor

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