Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Size: 352 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Release Date: May 15, 2012
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 5/5 stars
This was an absolutely wonderful book that gives an interesting viewpoint of World War II in a way that is engaging and absolutely engrossing.
The first part of the book is written as a confession/journal from a girl named Queenie’s point of view. She is being held hostage by Nazis as a British spy. As part of her “confession” she is relating the tale of her friendship with a female British pilot named Maddie.
The second part of the book is written as a journal from Maddie’s POV. I won’t say much more about that because it would spoil the story.
Both characters have very distinct voices. Queenie laughs in the face of danger and has an excellent sense of humor even in the face of torture. Maddie is more tentative but no less fierce.
I really enjoyed both perspectives. Queenie is fearless and can’t resist having a sense of humor about the strangest things. She occasionally plays pranks on the Nazis even knowing that they will punish her for it…just because she needs a good laugh. Despite the absolutely bleak setting of her story, she makes you laugh and as a reader I completely admired her.
Maddie is more timid. She admits to breaking into tears every time she hears gunfire, she admits to being terrified and at times hiding…but she is no less fierce. Despite her fears, she does what she has to. She is incredibly loyal and absolutely resolute. Her section of the book wasn’t as…dare I say given the subject matter…funny but it was still incredibly engaging.
You can tell Wein did a lot of research to write this book. It is a very interesting accounting of the roles of both female spies and female pilots in World War II. There are a lot of interesting facts in here and Wein states what is true and what is fiction in the Afterward. I really enjoyed learning about this aspect of World War II through the eyes of these two wonderful friends.
This book is also about friendship. It’s about how two women with completely different personalities can be best friends, about the loyalty of friendship, and the sacrifices that sometimes have to be made if you love your friend enough. It’s also about women first stepping into careers dominated by men and being darn good at what they do.
This book was impossible to put down. It had me laughing out loud at points. It also had me in tears at points, there are parts of the story that are absolutely heartbreaking… The story is uplifting in some ways, but I have yet to read a book about the Nazis that ends in a truly happy way. Honestly just thinking about what the women in this book go through upsets me even still.
So while not a comfortable read, it definitely makes an impact. It is targeted toward young adult audience. This is about war though; there is torture and there are horrible things described in this book. So just a warning to those who are sensitive to those things…but should you let that stop you from reading this book…absolutely not. These things really happened in Nazi occupied France and people should read about them.
Overall an absolutely wonderful read. I enjoyed that this book gives a different look at the history behind World War II. I loved learning more about women spies and pilots of that era. The two women who feature in this book are absolutely stunning and engaging to read about. I could not put this book down. Seriously everyone needs to read this. If you are particularly interested in World War II, another great book about the Nazis and how they affected the general non-Jewish German population is The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.