Elizabeth Wein’s ‘Code Name Verity’: Thrilling WWII spy drama for young adults

July 31, 2012

CODE NAME VERITY

By Elizabeth Wein

Hyperion. $16.99. Ages 14 and up

A spy during World War II, Julie is known by many names: Queenie, Eva, Scottie, Lady Beaufort-Stuart. But to English pilot Maddie Brodatt, she is a best friend “full of bookish nonsense and foul language, brave and generous.” This gripping story opens in occupied France. Julie has been captured and is being forced to write a confession for a Nazi interrogator. To keep herself alive for a possible rescue, she must weave a tale that’s compelling (and informative) enough to keep him reading day after day. Julie writes on hotel stationery, recipe cards and the sheet music of a Jewish flutist, slowly providing the details demanded about her mission and plane, which was piloted by Maddie and lost in the French countryside.


‘Code Name Verity’ by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion)

This heart-in-your-mouth adventure has it all: a complex plot, a vivid sense of place and time, and resonant themes of friendship and courage. Practical Maddie and mischievous Julie are brought to life through their vibrant narrative voices and intriguing backstories, and allusions to J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” deepen their alternating tales. In one poignantly humorous scene, as a guest at Julie’s home in Scotland, Maddie dines upon a precious egg boiled by her friend’s wounded brother and eight chatty, bombed-out “Lost Boys” taken in by the aristocratic family. In this powerful work of historical fiction, Julie and Maddie need never fear “flying alone”; the reader will soar with them until the final page.

— Mary Quattlebaum

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