Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

It's 1938. Maddie, is enchanted by the new planes. Being mechanically minded, she hangs about at the local air field. It's there that she first meets Dympna - the first female pilot she's ever met. After that, every Saturday is spent at the Aerodrome. In October of that year, the Civil Air Guard is formed, offering free flight training to those who qualify! It doesn't hurt her chances that everyone knows her, and soon enough, she is flying solo. In a year, she has her pilot's license. Then the war hits, and all civilian flights are grounded.

Enlisting in the Women's Auxilary Air Force (WAAFs), soon Maddie's an Aircraftwoman, directing traffic and coaxing planes down to the runway. It's there that she first meets Queenie, the only German speaker on base. A German pilot sends out a distress signal asking for directions to land, mistaking his location. With Queenie translating Maddie's instructions into German, the two manage to get the enemy bomber on the ground after dumping his remaining ammunition, where he is remanded into custody. They are fast friends.

Interspersed with the story of their meeting, the writer of this account shares with us her situation: she has been captured by Nazi agents and tortured for information. Against her better judgment, she is sharing this true account of airfields and plane models. Along with the codes to the 11 radios found in her wrecked plane. She knows that when her account comes to an end, they will kill her. No one escapes from the Nazis.

Maddie eventually makes it to the ATA (Air Transport Auxilary), and begins transporting planes all over Britain. Even to a secret location. One night, a familiar face surprises her. Queenie! Could it be? She, too, is involved with the Secret Ops? "Careless talk costs lives," is all she will say. Then it's that fateful night, when they are paired together for an unauthorized mission to France, and everything goes all wrong. They are separated, and then Queenie disappears. Maddie fears the worst - she could be dead, or worse, captured.

Part two: Maddie's side of the story. After their crash, she's stuck in France with no ID, living in fear. There's no official word for when they'll be able to get her back home, and still nothing about Queenie. The Resistance may be on their side, but she'd prefer they kept their hands to themselves! To say nothing of her bed, if you can call it that, in a crawlspace under the eaves. What is to become of a grounded pilot, and a captured spy?

Masterfully written, and suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat, this historical espionage novel is cleverly disguised as a tale of two girls meeting and becoming the best of friends. I can't wait to read the companion novel! This author will be on my radar. It won the Prinz Honor for 2012.
"It's awful, telling it like this, isn't it? As though we didn't know the ending. As though it could have another ending. It's like watching Romeo drink poison. Every time you see it you get fooled into thinking his girlfriend might wake up and stop him. Every single time you see it you want to shout, 'You stupid ass, just wait a minute,' and she'll open her eyes! 'Oi, you, you twat, open your eyes, wake up! Don't die this time!' But they always do.
I wonder how many piles of paper like mine are lying around Europe, the only testament to our silenced voices, buried in filing cabinets and steamer trunks and cardboard boxes as we disappear-as we vanish into the night and the fog?" (Wein 174, 2012).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (Companion to Verity) Sept. 2013
Violins of Autumn by Amy McAuley
A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper (The Montmaray Journals)

Wein, Elizabeth. (2012). Code Name Verity. New York: Hyperion.

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