I could say many things about “Code Name Verity” – in that while I like historical fiction and young adult fiction that tackles tough subject matters, this is one of the best books in YA fiction that I’ve come across in a while, and I could mentally kick myself for not reading it sooner, since it’s right up my alley.
The story depicts two best friends – “Verity” and Maddie, who are separated from each other after a crash. “Verity” is taken captive by the Gestapo during World War II – subjected to torture and made to write code and sell secrets. “Verity” finds her own way of weaving the narrative, interspersing her story of bonding and coming of age with Maddie, while recalling events that led up to the crash and her captivity. Some of the things that Verity is subjected to really freaked me out, like the soldiers washing her hair in kerosene and the coal burns around her neck and collarbone. She’s subjected to so much, but in the same measure of things, you learn much about her journey with Maddie and how the two of them are young women working in positions that were ahead of their respective time. There are some historical liberties taken in Wein’s account, but rather minute compared to the compelling narrative.
I couldn’t help but be taken by the bond between these two girls, even show in the toggling of the narrative from “Verity” to Maddie’s account. Verity’s letters don’t reveal her true name so easily, but you can tell she’s protecting her identity and trying to do everything she can to protect her friend, even as the odds are stacked against her. And Maddie? Oh man, I definitely felt her sense of confusion, peril and worry over her friend as the story pushes though until the end and the revelations hit full force.
Definitely recommend this for those who love YA historical reads with a powerful story of friendship, sacrifice, and heart.
Overall score: 4.5/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Disney Hyperion.