Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Hardcover, 343 pages

I did a #bookgapchallenge video for this book, as it met my historical fiction book gap.You can click here to go to the post with that video.

I don’t know what it is about historical fiction that makes it not something I’d pick up first. I haven’t read any historical fiction that I haven’t liked. So when I saw a bunch of my twitter friends talking about Code Name Verity, then got a comment from one of my viewers echoing their sentiments, I figured I’d go ahead and pick it up. And since school hadn’t started yet when I read it, I finished it in two sittings.

Briefly, because I want to talk about something else, Code Name Verity is the story of two female friends during WWII. One is a pilot, the other, Verity, is a spy who has been captured by the Gestapo. It’s a story about friendship, and about courage, and about how to hang onto those things in the face of the atrocities of war.

There was something about the voice that drew me in. When I started the book, I was having a conversation with one of my friends via text message, and I described the narrator’s voice as one that had gumption. As a reader, I appreciate female characters who have the huevos to go get things done, even if they’re scared. I will admit that there was a part of the story that made me mad, but I won’t say what it is because I don’t want to spoil it for people who plan on reading it.

Because I just finished filming the second allusion video, it’s in post production right now, I’ve got allusions on the brain. So I couldn’t help but stop and make some notes to myself about the allusions that I caught in the first sitting. I’m not going to go through all of them, but I would be a terrible teacher if I didn’t model how allusions give us this much information with this many words.

As I mentioned before, Verity, the narrator of the first part of the story, has been captured by the Gestapo. She makes a deal with the captain in charge of her interrogation that she’ll provide information in exchange for her life. Verity is guarded by a woman, and this woman has to translate everything that Verity writes because the Captain doesn’t speak English. From the text we get, “She [Miss Engle, the translator] was anxious last night because she didn’t think I’d coughed up enough facts to count as a proper little Judas yesterday” (p. 24).

Here’s the lots of words bit: Judas was one of Jesus’s 12 apostles, the one who is known for betraying Jesus by setting up his arrest. He did this in exchange for money, but ended up committing suicide. So by calling herself Judas, Verity explains to readers that her actions betray herself and her country, and lead me to predict that she might, through how she reacts to torture or by ticking someone off, may arrange her own death.

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