by Beth Kephart
Elisa has always been the girl in the shadows, the "undercover" agent who knows about everyone and everything and never breathes a word. She spends her time among nature, ice-skating, discovering new words, and forming strings of beautiful sentences. But when her family seems to be falling apart and a snobby girl at school threatens to ruin her dreams, Elisa is forced to step into the spotlight and quite simply, "save the day."
Undercover is one of the freshest and most invigorating books I've read in a while. I took a longer time reading this than I do most books, wanting to absorb each word and savor the sound of them put together. The writing was clear and beautiful, and the poems scattered among the chapters were thoughtful and original. Some lines made me gasp with their honest simplicity:
You know how a song is time,
and how you turn and you turn on the blades of time,
and you close your eyes
and maybe you leap
and you are the girl with the wild hair
and the big parka
on the hard and complicated ice.
The only small thing that nagged at me at the end was the ending. It was left open for interpretation, which I suppose was to make the reader create their own ending, but I wished it wasn't so abrupt. I wanted to know what happened; I wanted to know if Elisa made it through all her troubles, managed to bring her family together, and overcame all her problems at school.
But overall, a terrific book. It's definitely on my favorites list for "Books read in May."