How do I review this book without spoilers? I will try my very best but I may slip up and reveal more than you want so if you are cautious of that, just take my word for it AND READ THIS BOOK!!! Also, this review is chock-full of quotes because the writing was phenomenal and I'll never be able to describe all of my feelings like Ms. Wein can. Here we go:
"It's like being in love, discovering your best friend."
First and foremost, this is a love story. A love story between two best friends. Anyone with a best friend knows exactly what I'm talking about. You may not see the friendship coming, you may not have predicted it, but somehow, someway, it develops and you eventually realize that you are soul mates.
"I don't believe it for a minute- that we wouldn't have become friends somehow-- that an unexploded bomb wouldn't have gone off and blown us both into the same crater, or that God himself wouldn't have come along and knocked our heads together in a flash of green sunlight. But it wouldn't have been likely."
That's the case for Verity and Maddie. They were thrown together during a crisis in WWII and forged an unbreakable bond. From the beginning, each girl admires the other and is impressed by the specific skills that the other does not have. Maddie flies planes (she's a girl who flies planes in WWII!!!) and Verity can speak multiple languages (among other things.) While reading this story I found myself connecting to these two characters in a magical way that can happen in books but does not happen enough. Verity is feisty, snarky, sarcastic, and obviously brilliant. I love it! She's also Scottish to core which reminds me of my beloved Outlander series. One of my favorite quotes from the books that sums Verity up is :
"You know- the stupid man's big mistake was calling me ENGLISH. It made my fury wholly convincing. A whore-maybe I'll consider that in desperation; filthy, it goes without saying; but whatever else the hell I am, I AM NOT ENGLISH."
Se what I mean? That girl is fiesty! Maddie is more subdued but it is obvious that she is equally as brilliant and independent and is all about some girl power. She is cool and calculated but has more power and skill than she gives herself credit for. This quote describes part of Maddie for me:
"Maddie quickly pulled down the blackout curtains over her bright and vulnerable soul and went off to sort the tire."
Who wouldn't like these two?!?
CNV is unique because it provides the reader with the female "soldier" perspective of WWII. There are countless books of male soldiers and of females who stayed at home to care for the kids. There are even books based around children in the war. It's easy to forget that there were strong, important women with imperative roles in the war and this novel reminds us of that. I also loved the twist in part two of the book when the story changed perspectives. What an awesome way to let us see how sneaky and intelligent Verity is! It gives us an honest view of what actually happened as well as some of the things that Verity may not have known.
And the underlying theme of Peter Pan? Be still my beating heart. I've always had a connection with Peter Pan and remember the movie and my all time favorite, the televised play with Mary Martin (if you haven't seen it, watch it! Or at least make your kids watch it!). While reading this book I laughed, I cried, I had goosebumps, and I easily found myself picturing the 1940s as if I was there with Verity and Maddie. I will never be able to express in words the feelings this book gave me but I would encourage you to find out for yourself. With that, I leave you with the most emotion-provoking line of the whole novel for me:
"The window is always open."