On Goodreads there are a couple of interesting things to note about Elizabeth Wein’s celebrated novel Code Name Verity. First, most folks are disinclined to really review the book for fear of spoiling. Second, it’s mysteriously classified as Young Adult. As regards my first observation: While I understand the difficulty in explaining the book and why it is so appealing without giving everything away, I don’t know if I find it that difficult to tell readers why it’s a great novel. I’m also perplexed as to why this is classified as YA lit on Goodreads. I don’t think my library has it as such. I’m not familiar with Wein, so perhaps that’s her normal genre. I suppose it’s possible, since I don’t recollect Wein describing either lead characters’ ages, that they are in their late teens; I just got the impression they were in their early-to-mid 20s. Does that classify as YA? I don’t know these things.
Does any of that really matter? Probably not. I loved this book and so should you. If you don’t, I guess that’s ok, but I will judge you silently. Code Name Verity tells the tale of two best friends, Maddie and *name withheld for spoilery-ness*, living in England during World War II. Both ladies are heavily involved in the war effort. Maddie is an aspiring pilot and ***** is a wireless operator cum spy for the British RAF. There’s more to it than that but when you pare things down to essentials, that’s all you need to know. This story is about a beautiful friendship between two strong, multi-faceted British women and their struggles to survive one of the most horrific experiences in recent history.
Wein’s writing is thoughtful and provokes myriad emotions, though I do expect there aren’t many WWII stories that don’t elicit wonder, heartbreak, and admiration from me. I guess that’s my major caveat to this whole review. Anyone who has read my reviews over this past year knows I have a penchant for period pieces (say that five times fast), especially British ones. But though there have been many stories from this time period, I don’t recall having read that many regarding the roles allotted to women of the time, if they weren’t nurses, in a factory, or staying at home with their children. Maddie and her friend’s story is new, to me at least, and is thoroughly enjoyable.
I really don’t have anything bad to say about this book. It’s quite admirable that Wein has chosen to write what many have labeled YA without one of the worst clichés of the genre: a love triangle. I guess that is somewhat spoilery but really it shouldn’t matter. This story is about two women and their friendship, and men don’t really come into the picture at all; that felt like a brave choice on Wein’s part. Read this, seriously.