About the Book: I didn't really like how much the product description gave away of the plot, so here's my version. Elisa is a teenager with a unique gift for words. She often uses her gift to help boys impress girls. She has a close relationship with her father, but he is often away which puts a strain on her family. Then one boy, who Elisa sort of likes, asks for Elisa's help over a longer period of time, causing her to question herself, what she's doing, and what she's worth.
My Review: I've been reading Beth's blog for a few months now (and if you aren't why not?) so my expectations were understandably high for this book. I figured if she could put out such quality blog posts at such frequency--the kind that make me sigh at the beauty of the words or nod my head in agreement or feel like, yes she gets it....than surely her book would be just as wonderful. Of course writing a blog and writing a novel are two different things. So there was the potential I wouldn't like it.
But let me tell you something. I hear a lot of people put down YA books, say they aren't as deep as adult novels or not as artistic. But Undercover is work of pure art, with rich lyrical language, the kind of words and imagery so beautiful you have to read it twice to savor it. And the main character Elisa? Oh how I felt like I knew her...because she was so similar to my own teen years. I don't think of course that I was nearly as gifted with words as Elisa, but I did have a teacher in high school who championed my poetry and short stories, who encouraged and praised me and even let me be a part of a "gifted" class so I could spend an entire year writing a book of poetry! (which was somewhat awful--buried somewhere where I never look at it!) I can even remember when it started falling apart (my writing) when I would turn in this writing and we both knew it was terrible. Sadly, she didn't think to give me a book of words like Elisa's teacher did!
I also loved the Cyrano de Bergerac comparison and study. I have always loved Cyrano, watched the film version with Gerard Depardieu a million times, and bawl my eyes out each time.
How did this book review turn into an autobiography? I'll try to focus! Not only is Undercover a work of pure art, it opts not to go the normal route of what YA books are so often all about, but instead opts for reality, self-discovery, and the sweet beginning of belief in oneself. That's not to say that common issues aren't addressed or present they are simply not central. I absolutely loved it. It's a book that is sweetly hopeful, grounded in reality, and wrapped in exquisite language. Highly Recommended.
Things You Might Want to Know: Enthusiastically recommended for all of my readers.