Code Name Verity
by Elizabeth Wein
This book has been recommended to me by so many people, I'm ashamed to say I've only now finally read it. I also found out it's part of a sort of series now (apparently all good YA has to be part of a series now). But I'm interested to find out what the next book(s) in the series are about, given what happens to the characters in this one.
it's a fictionalized historical account of women pilots and women spies during World War II. We get glimpses into their work and into the culture of the time by getting to know the two main characters in this book intimately. The entire book is presented as a series of journal entries from these two characters. So sometimes you have to let your imagination fill in the blanks regarding what has happened between entries. Other times it's described in great, painful detail.
The book opens when the plane the two young women are in together are shot out of the sky. One is captured by the enemy, the other (we find out later) died in the crash. To keep herself alive, the woman must tell all her secrets, which she does in the form of a story she gives to her captors. And through that narrative, we get to know the characters so well. We get to know her so well also, based on what she spends time talking about (her dear friend, the pilot) and what she doesn't. The reader is left to guess how much of the story is true. We see her suffering, hear her complaints. We see her will broken but her love for her friend and loyalty to her home (Scotland!) shine through. But we also see her spilling it all right there on the paper. It isn't until later that, as a reader, you start to question every single little thing. There are plenty of plot twists (some of which are obvious, others much less so). But you get to see the war through several unique perspectives here, and you really come to admire the complexities and bravery of the main characters.