Undercover by Beth Kephart

Kephart_UndercoverAnother engaging and delightful book! Elisa is the second daughter – the plain, invisible daughter to the older, beautiful Jilly. “In a modern day Cyrano de Bergerac, Elisa ghostwrites love notes for the boys in her school. But when Elisa falls for Theo Moses, things change fast. Theo asks for verses to court the lovely Lila – a girl known for her beauty, her popularity, and a cutting ability to remind Elisa that she has none of these.”

I enjoyed this book because it talks about language and evokes feeling through poetry. Because the Lily’s of the world will try to hold the Elisa’s back but this Elisa rises. She is a strong girl and knows her self-worth (thanks, Dad!). She is courageous even in the face of truth (she never tries to put her own physical beauty on the same level as Lily or Jilly, but she brings out what she can and finds a different kind of beauty – one that Theo, showing his depth, appreciates and chooses in the end). Well-paced and realistic, Kephart weaves a story about every-day school experiences, marital problems and joys, friendship and first love into Undercover. I can’t wait to recommend it to my teens because I couldn’t put it down and wanted more when it ended (though she ended it perfectly, if in a slightly Hollywood fashion). I’m sorry this one didn’t make it to the 2009 Garden State Teen Book Award List.

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