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Book Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This is one of the rare books that I have decided I will read again someday. I rarely read a book twice (unless it’s Jane Austen, Elisabeth Eliot or a book I’m teaching at school), but this one is so interesting and interestingly written that I will have to read it again to fully appreciate its genius. I feel like the first time I read it for plot, but the second time I will read it for appreciation of the writing.

Wein (a pilot herself) researched about female pilots and spies from the UK during WWII to come up with this tale of two dear friends, told in a very creative manner. As I read, I was a bit confused about the different types of planes mentioned, the locations named, and even who was narrating the story, but it is all so well written that I just couldn’t stop reading. The description, voice, and grit of the two women mesmerized me even if I was confused, and before I knew it, I was hooked and couldn’t wait to find out what happened. Only then when I found out what happened, I wished I wouldn’t have.

Maddie Broddat and her dear friend, whose real name I can’t tell you (she goes by Verity) possess talents that get them recruited into an English spy unit. Maddie flies Verity into German-occupied France, but Verity gets captured by the Germans and is being held for interrogation. The first 3/4 of the novel is from the interrogation place where she is supposedly telling all the secrets to the Gestapo in a narrative form, which the evil commander who is torturing her just loves since he is a man of literature. About halfway into the narrative, which is largely about Maddie, we see that Verity is referring to herself in the third person as she tells the story and revealing codes and locations as she goes.

Later, the book cuts to a journal that Maddie is keeping as she and other spies get together to try to go rescue Verity. That is all I can tell you without giving the rest away. Throughout the story, as each girl fiercely wonders what has become of her friend, the reader is held in suspense as well, until the last few pages. You should read this book if you enjoy a good story about friendship, England, Scotland, history, women’s role in history, flying planes, espionage, and good writing.

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