Tuesday, February 12, 2019

How I Became a Spy: A Mystery of WWII London

40640809Hopkinson, Deborah. How I Became a Spy: A Mystery of WWII London
February 12th 2019 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Bertie is a very young civil defense volunteer who lives with his father at a boarding house for single policeman after the family home was destroyed and his mother and brother relocated to the country. On his first official call, he forgets his helmet, brings along his dog, Little Roo, and leaves his coat with an unconscious woman he finds in an alley. He also finds a red notebook after an encounter with an American girl, but later realizes that the notebook belongs to someone else... someone who is working as a spy. Once he meets the American girl, Eleanor, he finds out that the journal belongs to her former tutor, a french woman named Violette who gave the journal to Eleanor for safe keeping. The journal is in code, so Bertie approaches his friend David, a German Jewish evacuee staying in London with foster grandparents, to help them out. David is a fan of Sherlock Holmes and loves codes. As the messages emerge, the trio gain more facts about Violette's involvement with the resistance to the Nazis. They manage to keep going through the "baby Blitz" of 1944 and survive until D-Day, using their connections to important war leaders to get Violette's message heard.
Strengths: This had a lot of good details about living in London and having to deal with air raids, shortages, and general war time activity. I liked that young people had believable war time roles. David's plight was interesting and realistically portrayed; he knew his parents hadn't survived, but he tried to focus on his life in London and things he could control.
Weaknesses: I wasn't as interested in Bertie's guilt over his brother's injury when their house was destroyed, but it was handled well and not harped on too much.
What I really think: This is an excellent book about the London home front, which is a fascinating topic, and includes lots of clever use of codes and ciphers. There are four practice exercises that can be done as the story unfolds. I will definitely purchase, but just wish that there were more books about Vietnam and Korea!

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. I have been hearing great things about this book. It sounds fascinating. I look forward to checking it out.