Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publication Date: 2012
Awards: Michael L. Printz Honor Book, Edgar Award
Where I got it: Public Library
Code Name Verity is an Historical Fiction novel in the YA category. The book tells the story of two best friends and the rolls that they play for Britain and the Allies during World War II, one is a pilot and one a spy. When the plane that they are in crashes in occupied France, the two women Verity and Maddie have to find a way to survive and support the war effort while waiting for the chance to escape. When “Verity” is captured and given the choice to collaborate or die, she tells the Gestapo everything, the whole truth. In the meantime, Maddie is trapped in occupied France with no way out. Will she be able to help the Allies in their fight and make it back home, or will she be captured too?
This book is well written and tells the entire story of two friends, from their beginning, to their end during World War II. During that time women often took on the jobs that would traditionally have been considered “men’s work.” This included work as both pilots and spies. The author has obviously researched the story well, particularly the history surrounding the work of both female pilots and spies. The story of Verity and Maddie is one of friendship, hope and desperation. The characters are well developed throughout, and no one is exactly who you might think they are. The story is written in two parts, the first from Verity’s point of view, and the second from Maddie’s. Although billed primarily as historical fiction, it is also a mystery novel that delves into perspective. Is Verity telling the Gestapo the truth or is it all lies?
This story was enjoyable, though it did take longer than usual to read. Verity initially came off as unlikable, due to her collaboration with the Gestapo, which may turn some readers off. If you keep reading however, the story of these two friends, and the mystery surrounding the story that Verity is telling keeps the reader interested. The subject matter is also interesting. The struggle of two young women working in careers that traditionally belong to men is interesting and helps to drive the story forward. Add to this the tension created by determining that the two women are trapped in occupied territory and you have a very interesting story.
Who should read it? Due to some bad language and descriptions of Nazi torture practices, this book is recommended for ages 14 and up. Anyone in this age range who likes historical fiction, mystery or both should read the book. It is also a wonderful book for students interested in the contributions of women to the war effort during World War II.
Star Rating: 5 out of 5