This story, which takes place in 1943 in Ormaie, France during the German occupation of World War II, begins with first person narration by a young(ish) female – “Verity” – who parachuted into France from Britain and was captured by the Gestapo as a spy. She has been able to defer being shot by promising to write out everything she knows about the British War Effort. (In addition to getting a few more weeks of life, she will also get pieces of her clothing back as she parcels out her secrets.) Thus, Code Name Verity is presented as a journal of a confession.
Verity tells her story from the viewpoint of her best friend Maddie, who happens to be the pilot who dropped her into France. Verity does this because somehow she ended up with Maddie’s ID when she was picked up. She writes “if I tell you about Maddie you’ll understand why we flew here together.”
In the course of writing about Maddie and their mission, Verity reveals her love for her best friend, and also keeps the reader apprised of what is happening to her during her imprisonment. The other prisoners despise her for her betrayal, but Verity admits to being a coward, and she has, moreover, been cruelly tortured.
Verity ends her confession by repeating over and over: “I have told the truth. I have told the truth. I have told the truth.” … And then comes Part 2.
Evaluation: This is one of those stunning books that ends up not being what it seems, which is why one should really read it twice for maximum enjoyment. I admit I didn’t like it much at first – too much detail, I thought, about planes and terrains – but I knew there had to be a reason for all the encomiums so I kept going, and was richly rewarded for it.
I liked very much the relationship between Verity and Maddie. It seemed more a matter of partner-love than friendship, but we never really know one way or the other. Nor, perhaps, do they. Either way, one couldn’t help but be drawn in by the loyalty and devotion between these two young women. And these are young women one can’t help but admire; they provide a couple of great role models for female readers.
Most of all, I loved the very last paragraph, about “lace and roses” – I wish I could reproduce it here because it’s so endearing and heartrending, but it’s simply too spoilery!
Published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group, 2012