Thursday, December 18, 2008

Book Review: Undercover by Beth Kephart

Book: Undercover
Author: Beth Kephart
Published: 2007

Elissa is the quiet one of her family. While her mother and sister attend to being beautiful and popular, she is content to watch the world go by and think her thoughts. Sometimes, these thoughts get turned into scraps of poetry which can be sold to hopelessly unpoetic boys at her school, with which to woo the girls of their choice.

But she encounters trouble with her latest client, the fascinating Theo, who wants words to gain and keep the (possibly mythical) heart of Liza. Elissa can write beautiful verses for him, but she’s starting to wonder if Liza is really the one Theo wants. At the same time, she realizes that her family is starting to crack apart from the top down, and discovers an unsuspected joy in ice-skating.

Her life is changing. She could go back to her safe, quiet existence on the sidelines, but what would she sacrifice if she did?

This is the kind of book that makes you want to walk in the woods and write poetry. (You’re lucky I didn’t--my poetry is terrible.) Beth Kephart has a dreaminess and a gift for describing the little glories of nature that allow you to step right into Elissa’s mind. On the surface, Undercover is about a girl who loves a boy who loves somebody else (or possibly not). But that’s only the very surface. It’s also about taking your own place in the world, about stepping out into the limelight for the first time and taking both the glory and the risk that comes along with it.

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