Julie’s Book Club: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity was on the shelf of recommended reads at my most-frequented library, so I picked it up thinking that I don’t read enough YA. The novel tells the story of two girls and their unlikely bond forged in wartime England during World War II. Maddie is a woman pilot. “Queenie,” as her best friend is called, has a much more mysterious job.

The book begins in diary-like entries penned by Queenie, describing their friendship up to the night Maddie delivered her to occupied France and her plane went down. Queenie, the reader learns, is being held and tortured in France and these are in fact passages she’s writing for the head interrogator as a way to avoid further torture. She’s “selling her soul,” she writes, by giving the Nazis bits of wireless code and information on airfields. She’s also buying herself time.

Author Elizabeth Wein does great things with perspective and information here. What Queenie, a non-pilot, knows about planes, for example, is limited. But she is imaginative in her descriptions, and her tandem flights with Maddie are some of the loveliest sequences in the book. The further Queenie gets into her tale of friendship and survival, the higher the stakes, as it becomes apparent that she soon will be shipped to a camp for experimentation and execution.

I read the last 200 or so pages of this book in a rush, because I had to find out how it ended. It unfolds brilliantly, with carefully plotted reveals (especially as Queenie doles out information to her captors bit by bit), and the friendship shared by Queenie and Maddie is sweet enough to make you weep. (There may have been a few tears shed by the time I closed the book.) I don’t pick up a lot of historical fiction, but in this case the setting of wartime England, with high suspicions, rationed food, and women’s work often seen as secondary, was multifaceted and vibrant. Wein really makes history come alive in this book (despite making up several town names, locations, and details of the characters’ work), and the illusion of reality was strong all along. I suspected nothing. A pilot herself, all of the flying sequences Wein described were written dreamily–coming out of the pages, one can tell the author is passionate about being in the sky.

I highly recommend Code Name Verity, and I think the reading experience will make me eager to try other historical fiction novels.

Audrey’s Cimmerian Tales Book Club

I love books. As children, we often become very attached to specific books that we connect to during special times in our lives. From Where the Wild Things Are to The Witch of Blackbird Pond, I was always on the lookout for a new book to love; some of my favorite memories are of discovering new books at the library or at Tattered Cover.  There is something about the promise of a good story wedged between the covers of a book that thrills me still, but it all started with my favorite childhood tales. So, I thought it would be fun to suggest some books based off of a childhood favorite of mine:


“The Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward Lear.  I  like the Little Golden Books edition because I think Ruth Sanderson did a beautiful job with the illustrations.  As a parent, I enjoy reading from my old, worn copy to my child and have him delight in the same pictures that thrilled me when I was his age. “The Owl and the Pussycat” is a love story.  Where some people might see a silly poem, I believe the characters make some strong and daring decisions like running away and sailing the world together before (gasp) they are even married.  But maybe it was the only way to be together because I doubt Pussycat’s parents were thrilled about her falling in love with an owl, or a musician. They probably wanted her to settled down with a boring Persian banker or American Shorthair lawyer. If this book appealed to you as a young child, you may also like:

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