World War II. Spies–and two incredibly brave young women in harm’s way, fighting against the Nazis. The story is told in two parts: the first, from the point of view of the imprisoned spy, being forced to write her “story” at the hands of the Nazis who trade her pieces of her own clothing for effort. Who she is –and why she’s there–isn’t clear for awhile, and readers need to be patient: “verity” which means truth, which does come out. Part Two is from the spy’s best friend’s point of view, and Maddie, a pilot, is frantic to find her imprisoned friend. Having survived a crash in France, Maddie is hiding with a family of Resistance fighters doing her best to learn of her friend’s whereabouts, and destroy the “Castle of Butchers” where she believes the spy and other prisoners are held.
The ending is shocking, but incredibly clever. Code Name Verity would make a terrific film–and as much as I’m shocked to say this, I think it might be a better movie than a book, at least for middle and high school students. Readers are likely to struggle a bit with the letter style in Part One, especially as the spy gives a lot of detail about her friend Maddie, and an overwhelming amount of information about planes and the military and civilian forces in England during the 1940s, but very little info about who she is and why she’s there. Still, the spy’s voice is incredible–she is brave, and smart and almost never afraid to anger her captors–even if it means additional torture for her.
Code Name Verity will be a “challenge” book for many readers, but definitely worth the time and effort. The bravery of these women, and the thousands more who fought against the evil of the Nazis, will always be worth remembering.
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