Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

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Code Name Verity

"I am a coward." That is the opening line of Wein's (The Winter Prince) extraordinary novel, and the first confession written down by Verity for her Nazi captors.

Verity is a Scot working for the allies. Her plane went down in France, and she's being held by SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden. Fräulein Engel translates Verity's account from English to German for von Linden, and SS-Scharführer Etienne Thibaut metes out Verity's punishment for various transgressions. Verity calls them "Laurel and Hardy," and believes that von Linden hopes she'll "do some ratting" on them. But her small acts of rebellion betray her bravery. Thus Verity amuses herself--and readers.

Most of Verity's account weaves in episodes from her friendship with Maddie Brodatt, the pilot who was flying their doomed plane. Verity's recollections of Maddie serve as a record of the rare moments of pleasure during wartime. "It's like being in love, discovering your best friend," she writes. Wein conveys a complexity with her characters that may at first elude us, and the ground shifts with each revelation. Wein's work is mesmerizing. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness