In C.S. Lewis’ book The Four Loves Lewis examines the four types of love in society—affection (as in between family members), romance, unconditional love, and friendship. Most books, especially the books that have come out for young adults in the past decade, focus on the romantic type of love. Lewis writes that, “to the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it”. One book that came out in 2012, however, not only centers on a friendship, but celebrates friendship. Elizabeth Wein’s Printz Honor-winning Code Name Verity is a spectacular book for many reasons, but what really makes it stand out is the way that it values and illuminates the love that abounds in a true friendship. For, as one of the characters says, “It’s like being in love, discovering your best friend.”
Code Name Verity tells the story of a female spy working for the Allies whose plane is shot down over Germany. She is arrested by the Gestapo, and knows that her chances of survival are very, very slim as an agent captured in enemy territory. The Gestapo officers who run the prison where she is taken give this girl spy, known as Queenie and Verity, a choice—she can tell them everything she knows about the Allies, or she can face execution. Queenie agrees to reveal what she knows, but it comes in a very unorthodox fashion. Queenie begins writing a story. She writes the story of her friendship with a female pilot named Maddie, the pilot who was flying her plane over Germany. Queenie’s friendship with Maddie is deep and powerful, a story of love and adventure.
And… that is all I am going to tell you. Because Code Name Verity is one of the books that you should know absolutely nothing about if you want to enjoy all of the twists and turns to the fullest. Elizabeth Wein’s novel is brilliant—it is beautifully written and superbly crafted. It is also a book written by an author who is committed to thorough research. Code Name Verity is a fascinating look at the bravery of many women during World War II in the Women’s Auxilliary Air Force in Britain. Anyone who loves historical novels will love this story. But this is also a story for anyone who has had a best friend. This is the story of two girls who laugh together, cry together, stay up at night telling each other secrets, and would do anything for each other. This is a book that every girl should read, as it is a look at how pure and beautiful a friendship can be. Each of the four loves that C.S. Lewis discusses are important. But in young adult literature friendship is often overlooked in favor of romance. Code Name Verity reminds us of the power of friendship, and that sometimes friendship can be the most important thing of all.