Author: Elizabeth Wein
# of pages: 452
Star rating: 4/5
The novel starts when our main character, who initially refers to herself as the code name Verity, has been captured by the Nazis. Instantly, the author mixes Verity’s angst and uncertainty with her defiance and fear. Wein combines this emotion with subtle world building reflective of the World War 2 time period. Verity’s been given paper and a pencil by the Nazis, in exchange for her life, to write everything she knows about the American/French/British operations. Verity does just that through the eyes of her best friend/pilot Maddie. She narrates their emotionally raw story of friendship, starting with how they met and culminating when the two are separated as Verity is launched into France in her espionage. The book then switches perspectives to a different narrator. The story continues right from where Verity left off all the way to the end of World War 2.
Maddie and Verity are best friends who inspire and admire each other and somehow seem to know everything about each other. Their friendship was so beautifully created and was one of the absolute highlights of this novel. Also, the writing was so REAL! Elizabeth Wein used her own knowledge as a pilot (mentioned in the author’s note) to create unique and specific characters with unique and specific situations and lives. While this novel could have been intense and dark, there were several comic relief parts that had me laughing out loud and made the read a little more lighthearted. For instance, Verity was tortured, but all she relayed about the experience was that the Nazi called her British- “A wh**e, we’ve established that, filthy, it goes without saying, but whatever else the h*ll I am, I AM NOT ENGLISH. I AM SCOTTISH!” Maddie’s views, as written by Verity, are just as humorous and entertaining to read.
That being said, there’s only so much of a job description one can write about a World War 2 pilot before it gets boring. I found several instances where I caught myself skimming over the minute details of Verity’s documentation, as Maddie, to return to more suspenseful and exciting parts, in which Verity writes about her own role as a part of the war.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The heartwarming/heartbreaking tale of friendship and loss is the kind of story that sticks with you forever. I would recommend this to anyone who has a bit of patience and an extra place on their shelf to hoard the book!