The YA book club I just joined read Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity this month and though I have read it before, I gave it a fast reread just to refresh everything. Goodreads tells me I read this in 2013, so I honestly don’t remember if I’ve reviewed it for CBR or not. If so, this will probably be a little derivative. Apologies.
Verity tells the story of two young women working for the British during WWII. Verity (aka Queenie, aka…) is being held by the Nazis in occupied France. To avoid torture (which she cannot withstand), she has agreed to write down everything she knows that led her to her capture. Her entries form a memoir of sorts, and mainly talk about her best friend Maddie Brodatt, a young pilot for the ATA (I think Air Transport Authority but I’m terrible at war acronyms), and how they met and both ended up in Ormaie, France. It’s a heart-wrenching story, as one would expect with WWII tales. It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for a period piece; give me another time and place to immerse myself in and I’m sold. The main characters being women is an added bonus. They’re both pretty badass but they don’t know it, or aren’t overtly aware of it anyway. No matter how much I read about this time period, I am continually amazed at the things people were capable of amidst such trauma, violence, and terror. While Code Name Verity isn’t based on any real people, any of these characters could have in fact existed – many others like them risked everything to protect Jewish families, or Allied soldiers and spies.
In case I haven’t made it clear, I love this book. Both Maddie and Queenie are complex, brave young women, and one can easily empathize with either of them. The supporting cast is well-developed as well, especially the Thibaut sisters and Anna Engel, even though it’s a first-person point of view. I think on my first reading I took a little longer to tune into things – who is talking, what is really going on, etc., but on review a lot of things clicked for me I hadn’t noticed before. This would make SUCH a good movie, so someone should get on that as well. Or maybe a BBC miniseries or something. I have nothing negative to say really, so just check it out. And remember to bring tissues.