I just finished a brilliant book, which I am not going to review here because I have to save it for the next Cephalopod Coffeehouse. I mean, I'm assuming it will be my favorite book of the month, though I could get lucky and read something even better.
No, I'm not reviewing it, exactly. I am just recommending you run out and buy a copy.
The Amazon blurb is this: "In exchange for a temporary stay of execution and lesser forms of torture, a young female spy captured in Nazi-occupied France writes a confession of her activities in the Resistance. Her story is that of two women who should never have crossed paths, yet were destined to become the best of friends and embark upon the covert mission that would determine which of them would live or die. Courage born of friendship, fierce hope, and surprising ironies abound in this spell-binding novel that will appeal to teens and adult readers alike."
What I really don't get is how this novel is marketed as a "children's book." Even calling it YA is a stretch. It isn't especially violent* and has very little sexuality, but the themes and the language** are pretty adult. I'm not saying kids shouldn't read it — I am totally comfortable with my middle-schooler and my high-schooler reading it. (In fact, the former is nearly done and the latter just finished.) I only think it's a shame to give it a label that will keep it out of adult hands. Adults can and should read this book. It's got something for everyone: it's got war (I did say I was done with war, didn't I? Oh well), it's got history, it's got spies, it's got intense friendship. As soon as you're done, you are compelled to flip back to the beginning and start over. The premise seems grim, but I found myself laughing every other page. Wein is a master of her craft.
Check it out. And then come talk to me about it on September 27 — the next Coffeehouse!
*As the blurb indicates, the "young female spy" is tortured. Somehow Wein makes it abundantly clear the character is suffering ... without being grisly about it.
** I don't mean sweary. I mean big words. It's a vocab-builder, with a lexile score that easily beats out Hemingway, Salinger, and Steinbeck. (I checked.)