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3.59  ·  Rating details ·  879 ratings  ·  173 reviews
Elisa leidt een onzichtbaar leven, zowel op school als thuis. Ze is liever alleen met haar gedachten dan dat ze iets moet met haar roddelende klasgenootjes. Of met haar zus die overal beter in is. De enige die haar begrijpt is haar vader, maar die lijkt ondanks alle brieven die ze hem stuurt niet terug te keren van een lange zakenreis. Ze vindt troost in het schaatsen op e ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 2014 by Callenbach (first published September 1st 2007)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  879 ratings  ·  173 reviews

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Sep 08, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
There were some truly beautifully lyrical passages in this book...but they were too few to actually make this book worth reading. Beautiful words and a beautiful writing style do not make a good book; it is necessary to also have a plot worth reading and characters that are well-developed.

I got the sense that Kephart was trying to do too much with her book...trying to tell an angsty tale of a shy teenage with an affinity for words, trying to tell the tale of a family on the verge of breaking apa
Nov 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melody by: CLM
I was certain that this book wasn't going to work for me- it began with more than one cliché and I mentally rolled my eyes. I don't know when I started noticing Kephart's extraordinary facility with language, maybe by the second chapter. The words in this book are muscular, flexible and entirely beguiling. The main character is a nascent poet who is gradually coaxed into herself with the assistance of a phenomenal teacher and a pond.

Read it for the glorious use of language, if nothing else.
Steph Su
May 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
UNDERCOVER is simply stunning. There are some books you read for the sake of the story, and there are some you read just to see the words fall perfectly together, to hear the way they sound in your mind. Beth Kephart’s words do not conjure up vivid scenes involving the characters and their predicaments; instead, they push the boundaries of language and remind us of the multidimensionality of words—that language is not simply a means to a message, but rather a form of art itself.

Elisa’s way of th
Mar 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Staci by:
Shelves: 2009-reads
his book is absolutely lovely. The words contained within these pages are poetic and I guess they're meant to be right? Because Elisa has a way with words, in fact, she hides behind the words that she writes. Kephart hit a home run with her first foray into YA fiction. There is so much going on underneath the facade of Elisa. She lets her guard down when she's writing for others and when she writes for herself. The poetry in this book is wonderful. At times in my life I've been intimidated by po ...more
Elisa is a girl who has spent most of her life in the shadows, quietly observing from the sidelines, content to think her own thoughts and write poetic thoughts in her head. As a hobby she writes love poems for some of the boys at school to give to the girl they like. Elisa's father seems to be constantly away on business trips, the one person that she feels she can talk to and to cope, she starts ice skating. Things get really slippery when Elisa starts to suspect that she has feelings for one ...more
Sep 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Elisa has a way with words. Her metaphors and similes come in handy for the boys at her school who come to her for poems to pass on to the girls they pine for. She is a female Cyrano d' Bergerac of her school. She considers herself an "undercover operative", not quite on the radar of the boys or the girls, sometimes not even with her teachers but always there watching and seeing things they don't. UNDERCOVER tells the story of Elisa as she discovers that she is not as "undercover" as she thinks ...more
Tess Holthe
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elisa writes poetry. She captures the metaphor, the moment, like a tiny butterfly in a box and hands them to her clients at school, so that they can let their feelings fly. Her clients are boys like Mr. Sue, a boy who once asked for a love note for a girl he was courting and is now known as Mr. Sue. She speaks for people who can’t find the words, bridges them through her words, and lets them rephrase what they feel in their own way. But what happens when she finds a boy she wants to give her own ...more
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

Once again beautiful writing from Beth Kephart, but I felt the story was a little slow and lacking a climax. I also felt the story ended without any real conclusions. I will however read more from Ms. Kephart because I love her writing style so much.
Jan 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was touched by this book even though I didn't really identify with any of the characters. I liked its emphasis on words and writing, and it was a good book to read at this time of year, too.
Apr 23, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
The buzz about this book is lost on me. It’s one of those highly anticipated books—because it’s a National Book Award Nominee for the author—that turns out to be deeply dissatisfying and disappointing. I hate it when that happens.

I’m not going to deal with a summary like I normally do, because I’ll admit, I did not finish the book. I stopped on page 139. I read the book flap’s summary, which makes the book sound more interesting than it is. That should be a sin.

As far as I’m concerned, the onl
Mar 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"What I knew wasn't mine. That's the thing about being undercover: You know what you know, and you cannot act on it."

Elisa Cantor is used to blending into the background. At home she is always in the shadow of her glamorous mother and sister, watching and wandering like her father. At school she is self-conscious and keen to stay invisible.

After all, it's so much easier to observe things when no one is looking at you. In the woods Elisa is able to observe nature, like her father, as an undercov
Aug 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If UNDERCOVER were a movie, I would say it's a slice of life story. You both start and end in the middle of things, but it's still satisfying. Intelligent Elisa may not be conventionally pretty, but she walks in a world of beauty. She appreciates the outdoors and uses the nature around her to inspire poetry. In turn she gives this poetry to male classmates to aid them in attracting the girls they like. The person who taught her to pay such attention to nature, her father, is away in San Francisc ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

Having recently read NOTHING BUT GHOSTS, I was anxious to crack open another Beth Kephart novel. UNDERCOVER was her first novel, and I'm surprised I missed it. According to the cover, Kephart was a
"National Book Award Nominee" and a well-deserved one, I'd say.

Elisa has always viewed herself as more of her father's daughter. Her sister, Jilly, and her mother share a passion for make-up and fashion. They are always dressed in perfectl
Carol Albert
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This is such a pretty book. It's been sitting on a bookshelf in my house for several years and it finally fell off. It was obviously begging to be read.

Our heroine, Elisa, isn't pretty like her mom or sister. She is compared to Cyrano de Bergerac, who writes words of love for this handsome guy to give to his love, Roxanne, while he himself, with his giant nose, loves Roxanne. Similarly, Elisa, who is in Honors English, ghost writes love poems (well, metaphors) for others. Her anguish begins whe
A sort of small, intimate story - not the kind of thing to pick up if you want plot and action, because it's more about the emotions pushing the characters than what they're actually doing as a result. Elisa, the narrator, is a poet, and the language of the story is very lovely in a way that will appeal to readers who live very much of an interior life. All of the things she does to push out her boundaries, like teaching herself to skate, letting herself feel the risk of affection - feel more ab ...more
Via Love
Con(s): In regards to the actual story line, reading this book was an experience somewhat similar to the one I had when I read Leap Day. I kind of felt like the story had no point really....Maybe its just me, but I feel like a story is not good unless it has a solid ending. The ending to this book wasn't a cliffhanger, but it was just as bad as one. Bu, I guess this was the author's idea of being realistic (because let's be honest: we all have our own definitions of realistic. The more cynical o ...more
Apr 09, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ashley - Book Labyrinth
I picked this up after reading another of Beth Kephart's books, and I enjoyed it to a certain extent. There was definitely something missing, though. You never really get to know the characters or see them fully flushed out in the writing. It was mostly the end that brought this from a 3 star to a 2 star: I was literally shocked it ended there, because it didn't seem like a finish at all - so ambiguous.
I never completely got in to this for some reason. I found parts of the beginning to be somewhat pretentious, and not a whole lot happened. There was nothing to make up for the lack of things happening, at least for me. I know that other people have liked this better. My parents got it for me at a book fair, and the author signed it really nicely to me, so I wish I had liked it better!
Apr 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a worthy read. It was interesting and real, and the ending was enough to satisfy my curiosity without tying up every loose end. I loved the perspective we were given on the nature, and the world in general. I liked how the author could portray her message without spelling everything out for you. All in all, an excellent book.
May 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While the plot is pretty predictable (main character "ghostwrites" love letters for boys to give to their girlfriends at school, main character falls in love with one of her "clients" - very much like Cyrano!), the writing really shines in this book. A good for middle school girls looking for a gentle read.
I loved that this was a book about words, and about noticing beauty where most people don't. But I didn't like the main character's love interest, and I'm not entirely happy with the ending; I just feel that there should have been a little something more. Beautifully written, but just...incomplete somehow.
I was kind of expecting a little bit more from this book. I thought that it was written pretty well, and it had the basics of a good story, but I felt it was rushed, and didn't go that much into the story as it could have. The ending was cut way too short, and it felt like the story wasn't finished. I liked it, but I feel it could have been better.
Nov 16, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 7th grade - 10th grade girls
This book has a feel of being very true to life. It's a quiet book, Like Olive's Ocean or Criss Cross, and very enjoyable because of that. I'd recommend it to girls who like words, who like to write and tend toward introversion. I think it would speak volumes to them.
Apr 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book reminds one of the importance of being honest and open about who we are and what we bring to the table. It also is a reminder that communication and romance are key to any strong, long-lasting marriage/love relationship.
Jul 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. The jacket blurb doesn't do it justice. Elisa as a character is totally believable in her social position, personality, and yet her intuitive use of language is almost unbelievably preternatural.
Aug 28, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I wanted to like this book. It had such promise...

But despite some lovely imagery and some poetic language, I just thought Ms. Kephart tried too hard to be important and beautiful. The language felt forced to me, as did some plot elements. OK, a lot of plot elements. Not my favorite
Mary Pat
Sep 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Young Adult. Similar to Cyrano de Bergerac, the heroine writes love letters for fellow students. But falls in love with one of the recipients. Multi-layered though, much more than just a love story, as she struggles with her family problems and finding her identity.
Jun 06, 2009 marked it as maybe-someday  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Monica by: Staci
Seems I'm always gardening or making some sort of mess. Kaneko's Story is rather boring compared to Rivers of Gold and Cuba and it's Music. Some YA reading may get me to stop gardening and open a book.
Jul 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
love this book-- one of my favorite YAs in recent time--about a female teenage cyrano who writes the love letters for her school, then falls in love with one of the boys she is helping--great ice skating scenes too
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I'm the award-winning writer of more than two-dozen books in multiple genres—memoir, middle grade and young adult fiction, picture books, history, corporate fable, and books on the making of memoir.

I'm also an award-winning teacher at the University of Pennsylvania, co-founder of Juncture Workshops, and an essayist and critic with work appearing in The New York Times, Life magazine, Ninth Letter,

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