Touted as the prequel to the gripping historical fiction, Code Name Verity, I was totally unprepared for this title. The former book is a gripping tale of one young woman’s ordeals during several interrogations orchestrated by an SS Officer of the Third Reich. I had prepared myself to meet this character and to meet her with my emotions suspended.
What a delightful surprise for this librarian, at the end of a very long school year, to be thrust into the Scottish highlands on a summer day! Not only is this one of my very favorite settings, but this book is also a mystery…I could not have been more pleased to nestle down each evening with Lady Julia Beaufort-Stuart – almost all of sixteen years old.
Yet, writing about a young adult novel within the confines of an almost adult oriented book blog is because of this: Ms. Wein weaves in the history of travellers – known to Yanks mostly as gypsies – and their almost unknown history.effortlessly for her readers. The “Author’s Note” is crucial to appreciating this work as she condenses a tremendous amount of solid research into three pages. While she zeroes in on the ‘Highland Travellers,’ it is not difficult to extrapolate her points as relevant to other populations here in the U.S. and other countries, regarding discrimination, misunderstanding of their lives. The intricacies of our lives being interdependent upon acceptance of the “other” – lifestyle, religion, custom, language – and how these enrich life is a central point for me, as an adult reader and global citizen.
So, within the context of this young adult, historical fiction mystery there is much to affirm inclusion and the ability to adapt and grow in order to be inclusive. Oh! by the way, one of the very main characters is a librarian!
Wein, Elizabeth. The Peal Thief. New York: Hyperion, 2017. Print.