Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is my current late night reading. By no means is this a relaxing bedtime read. However, I find that I really need the quiet of the evening while I read this. Verity is a secret agent who has been captured by the Gestapo while her friend Maddie, a pilot, is left in the wrecked fuselage. To delay her execution, Verity begins to write her confession. As we read her confession, we see the friendship of Verity and Maddie unfold. We see Verity fight for her life with each secret she shares.
“It’s like being in love, discovering your best friend.”
This book, set in World War II, is raw. It is breaking my heart as I read. I read the companion novel to this, Rose Under Fire, last year and felt that same rawness and reality of what was happening at this time. To see the coldness and cruelty of one human to another is gut wrenching and heart breaking. As the survivors of the Holocaust and this War are slowly beginning to pass away, I think it is so crucial for their story to continue to be heard. So I will pass these books to my children as they reach the maturity for them.
“I am no longer afraid of getting old. Indeed I can’t believe I ever said anything so stupid. So childish. So offensive and arrogant.
But mainly, so very, very stupid. I desperately want to grow old.”
Even in the midst of the horror that is playing out, there are glimpses of light. Maddie and Verity are so very different but they become the best of friends. I see them clearly in mind as Verity shares of the adventures and experiences together.
“How did you ever get here, Maddie Brodatt?”
“‘Second to the right, and then straight on till morning,'” she answered promptly-it did feel like Neverland.
“Crikey, am I so obviously Peter Pan?”
Maddie laughed. “The Lost Boys give it away.”
Jamie studied his hands. “Mother keeps the windows open in all our bedrooms while we’re gone, like Mrs. Darling, just in case we come flying home when she’s not expecting us.”
And so I read in the quiet of the evening.
“People are complicated. There is so much more to everybody than you realize. You see someone in school everyday, or at work, in the canteen, and you share a cigarette of a coffee with them, and you talk about the weather or last night’s air raid. But you don’t talk so much about what was the nastiest thing you ever said to your mother, or how you pretended to be David Balfour, the hero of Kidnapped, for the whole of the year when you were 13, or what you imagine yourself doing with the pilot who looks like Leslie Howard if you were alone in his bunk after a dance.”