Brooke Shirts's Reviews > Undercover

Undercover by Beth Kephart
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's review
Apr 12, 08

bookshelves: books-read-in-2008
Read in April, 2008

Gorgeous, shimmering prose. Golly, this is one of those books I wish I could have read when I was fifteen. Perhaps this is mainly because the protagonist so closely resembles my fifteen-year-old self! (Eh, except for the ice-skating bit. Coordinated physical movement has never been my strong suit.)

Elisa considers herself to be "undercover" -- an ordinary girl who blends in with the crowd, friendless and lonely. She spends her time ruminating at the shores of her "secret pond" in the woods, and writing poetry for the boys in her classes to woo other girls with. (Yeah, she reads "Cyrano de Bergerac" in English class, too.)

BUT -- when Elisa falls for her latest client, and her family is threatening to fall apart, she decides that it's time to come out of her shell. Will she be able to reunite her parents, Get the Guy, and escape the wrath of his girlfriend, the big meanie Lila? And yeah -- ice skating is at the crux of the solution, which sounds odd, but it works. Really works.

What's to like: spectacular descriptions of the natural world, a subtle, authentic teen voice, the complete text of Mary Oliver's "Wild Geese." Elisa's emergence into human society is natural and gradual. Lovely.

What's not to like: Lila, the fashiony mean girl, is a bit of a cliché. I'm tired of fashiony mean girls. Yeah, they exist, but do they have to show up in every other YA novel?


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