I also love books that I'm told will make me cry, pretty safe bet with World War 2 books. I've heard a lot about this book this year and I was thrilled to finally pick up a copy at my bookstore.
This book is about a girl code named "Verity" who parachutes in to Nazi-occupied France during 1943. After making one small error, she is captured by the Gestapo and taken in for questioning. She is offered one choice: tell them the mission she has been give or face execution, an execution that won't be quick or painless.
The girl who flew her into France is Maddie, her best friend and a female pilot. To reveal the information the Nazi officers want from her, she writes a narrative of the events leading up to her landing, told from the perspective of Maddie.
Throughout the novel, Verity writes about what happens to her in her prison inside a hotel converted into a Gestapo headquarters as well as the events leading up to her landing. The sharing of both stories made for an interesting and intricate read.
I was so ready to love this book. I was ready to cry hysterically and be unable to sleep at night because I was up reading. This was not my experience. This book took me so long to read and it was a struggle for me to keep my attention on what was happening. There were so many terms I didn't understand and the majority of the book was made up of planes and mechanical jargon that went right over my head. It made it hard to follow the main points of the story and to watch the friendship between the two girls blossom. I wanted a more intimate look at who these girls were and what this friendship was, but instead it was all military talk with the occasional peak into the minds of the girls.
From the brief moments the girls got to talk, I loved them. The characters in this book were complex and beautiful. I loved hearing their voices.
First lines, courtesy of Verity:
"I AM A COWARD.
I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was. I have always been good at pretending I spent the first twelve years of my life playing at the Battle of Stirling Bridge with my five big brothers- and even though I am a girl, they let me be William Wallace, who is supposed to be one of our ancestors, because I did the most rousing battle speeches. God, I tried hard last week. My God, I tried. But now I know I am a coward. After the ridiculous deal I made with SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer von Linden, I know I am a coward. And I'm going to give you anything you ask, everything I can remember. Absolutely Every Last Detail."
Verity was strong and determined and I loved her. Maddie was so strong too, but had a quiet strength that was so different from Verity. I loved the little tender moments we got to spend with them, sharing their fears, snuggling in bed after a hard day at work, moments before Verity has to land in France. I wish the novel focused less on the nitty gritty details of how to fly a plane and types of engine and more on these two.
The ending though was quite amazing! It had a twist that I did not see coming and while I didn't cry, it shook me and definitely made an impact on my mind. The end is how the whole book should have been- deep and electric and moving.
All in all I would give this book 2 stars out of 5. I liked the characters and I liked where the plot wanted to go, but sadly it read a little bit like a military pilot textbook. I realize it sort of had to be that way since Verity was revealing secrets as she was telling the story, I just feel that more narrative could have been put in to move the plot along faster.
Until next time, happy reading! I'd love to hear any recommendations you have for me, or your thoughts about anything I've read. Leave your comments below; I'd love to hear from you.