Sunday, March 8, 2009

Review: Undercover by Beth Kephart

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.

Rating: 5/5
Things You Might Want to Know: Enthusiastically recommended for all of my readers.



Alix said...

It sounds like something I'd really enjoy. I'll be adding to my list :)

Thanks for the review

Ana S. said...

I really think that the best YA is up there with the best adult fiction. This sounds wonderful. Thank you for the lovely review, Amy.

Elizabeth said...

This sounds good - I'm going to look for it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Amy. I'm here via Rhonda Clark's blog. :)

Thanks for this review -- it sounds like a book I'll definitely enjoy!

Mari said...

This has been on my To Read List since I read House of Dance, also by Beth. You should read it as well. It is a wonderful book.

bermudaonion said...

I was thinking of Cyrano when I read your description. I'm adding this to my wish list after your splendid review.

samantha.1020 said...

I'm sold and will definitely be checking this one out. Great review!

Staci said...

I loved your review of this book so much that I added it to my YA Challenge for this year. I am in love with YA books, they're cleverly written and very engaging. I never feel like I've wasted my time reading YA instead of Adult literature.

BTW...I enjoyed your autobiography moments!!

Beth Kephart said...

Oh my gosh, Amy. I read your blog everyday and I was just cruising on over here, saw the image of the cover, and had a mini panic attack. I had no idea you were reading UC, and I am SO relieved that you liked it. Oh, thank you. I'm going to link to it in a few minutes on my own blog.

(Once I recover.)

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!


Amy said...

Alexa--I hope you enjoy it!
Nymeth--I agree! Now it's just to convince the rest of the world ;)
Elizabeth--I hope you like it!
Shari--Thanks for stopping by, I hope if you get the chance to read the book, you'll enjoy it!
Mari--I plan to! I'm glad you liked it, I have it in my TBR.
Kathy--I hope you get the chance to read it.
Staci--thanks!!! I enjoy YA a lot as well. I may eventually write a post about it b/c I'm a recent convert.
Beth--surprise! :) I actually am accumulating quite a little stack of your there may be more. :) Thanks for honoring me by reading my blog.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Can't wait!

Darlene said...

Great review Amy. I'm a lurker over at Beth's blog. I really should comment because she really does have wonderful posts. This book sounds really good. Another for the big old wishlist.

S. Krishna said...

Wow, what am amazing review! I'm adding this to my TBR list now!

avisannschild said...

This sounds like a great read, Amy. I've been rediscovering YA lit recently, so I'll add this one to my list. I love the cover too.

avisannschild said...

It turns out I'd even commented on your review before!

Anonymous said...

I read this book and i like it. It is realy good!!!

Penniee said...

I really liked this book! It was so sweet and poetic :)

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