Allen & Unwin
|Imprint:||Bloomsbury Children’s Books|
Elizabeth Wein continues her stellar historical novel series with another look at a fascinating aspect of World War II, this time weaving a wonderful tale around the famous Enigma code.
This exciting story revolves around three very diverse main characters: Louisa, orphan of a mixed marriage (English and Jamaican) who is habitually judged unfairly due to her race and culture, despite the fact that she has raised in a very ‘English’ manner; also subject to prejudice is Ellen McEwan, a Traveller, who is working as a driver for the RAF at the nearby airfield and Jamie Beaufort-Stuart, young pilot in the locally stationed squadron.
Louisa’s loss of both her parents in rapid succession means she needs to find work – not easy for a girl of colour – but is hired by the owner of a pub in Windyedge, Scotland, to be carer for an elderly aunt, herself a colourful and feisty character of German descent. It is in the small village, most notable for the airfield close by, that Louisa encounters Jamie and Ellen, who have known each other for years.
All three are desperate to fight back against the enemy and when the trio find themselves in possession of the mysterious Enigma code machine by means of an even more mysterious German flier, they use the machine to the advantage of Jamie’s squadron to inflict as much damage as possible on the relentless German assault by air.
It’s a deadly and dangerous course for the young people but they are all made of stern stuff and are determined to wreak havoc on the despised Germans.
The interaction between all the characters, both primary and secondary, is fascinating and eminently engaging and for young readers this is a superb way to ‘learn history’ that might otherwise be quite dull while also reflecting on attitudes and intolerances, sadly still all too prevalent today.
This was a gripping read which I thoroughly enjoyed and I truly warmed to these young characters, each so very different yet united in their unwavering determination and strength of character.
I highly recommend it for young readers from around upper primary onwards and would be certainly advocating it for a ‘read around your topic’ program.