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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

You only get one best friend.

Topics: World War II, airplanes, spies, codes, friendship, war prisoners, Gestapo, England, France

Curriculum Connections: English, World History (World War II)

Gender: M/F

Age: 14+

Blurb: I miss my teenage years. My best girlhood friend and I did crazy stuff together and we loved every minute. We raced shopping carts down the street in the middle of the night; we pushed fashion choices to the extreme (and thought we looked totally rad); we created elaborate stories for our alter egos (named Gertie and Ferdie). Good times; great memories. But as brave as we made each other, we never once jumped out of an airplane.

In Code Name Verity, Maddie’s best friend jumps out of an airplane…into enemy territory…from a plane that Maddie is flying. It’s not like Queenie had much of a choice, however, as the plane was crashing at the time. Oh, and Queenie is a spy so it was her job.

Separated on the ground, Maddie and Queenie take on new identities and go into hiding. It’s best not to be taken hostage by a Nazi if you can help it. One of them doesn’t last long, however, and is captured because of the tiniest of mistakes. Under arrest and faced with torture, she vows to tell the truth no matter what.

Pilots. Spies. Secrets. How far would you go to protect your best friend?

Flavour: “One of the first items on the very long list I have been given to think about including in my confession is Location of British Airfields for Invasion of Europe. Fraulein Engel will confirm that I burst out laughing when I read that. You really think I know a damned thing about where the Allies are planning to launch their invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe? I am in the Special Operations Executive because I can speak French and German and am good at making up stories, and I am prisoner in the Ormaie Gestapo HQ because I have no sense of direction whatsoever.” (6)

“Maddie listened with her heart in her mouth, holding her headset to one ear and the telephone to the other, waiting for the girl at the RDF screen to pass her new information. ‘Shhh,’ warned the radio officer, leaning over Maddie’s shoulder and taking hold of the telephone receiver for her so her right hand was freed up for taking notes. ‘Don’t say anything—don’t let him know who’s listening—‘” (43)

“They both ducked instinctively as something exploded at the other end of the runway. Queenie squeezed Maddie around the waist and gave her a quick peck on the check. ‘Kiss me, Hardy! Weren’t those Nelson’s last words at the Battle of Trafalgar? Don’t cry. We’re still alive and we make a sensational team.’ Then she hitched up her hair to its two-inch above-the-collar regulation point, swabbed her own tears and the grease and the concrete dust and the gunner’s blood from her cheeks with the back of her hand, and she was off and running again, like the Red Queen. It’s like being in love, discovering your best friend.” (68)

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