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Review: Undercover

September 3, 2009


Elisa Cantor is a plain girl – rather like a tomboy.  She’s not into dresses or make-up or fashion at all.  She does love the outdoors and writing metaphors, though.  The boys at her school get her to write little notes for their girlfriends, much like a modern day Cyrano de Bergerac.

This suits Elisa just fine until Theo starts asking her for notes.  Theo makes Elisa’s heart skip a beat, but he just thinks of her as a friend, since he’s dating the oh, so popular Lila.

Elisa’s father is her kindred spirit, but it seems like he’s out of town on business all the time.  This puts a strain on his marriage, so Elisa’s mother isn’t always there for her either.  It seems like Elisa’s on her own – she needs to figure out what to do about Theo and how to save her family.  Elisa says,

When you’re undercover, you have to keep things to yourself.  You have to go around with a who-cares? slouch even when there are fists of anger, fists of wanting, all inside you, pounding.

I was lucky enough to win a copy of Undercover by Beth Kephart when My Friend Amy and Presenting Lenore conducted a book drive for her latest title, Nothing But Ghosts.   Boy, am I glad I did.  I loved this wonderful book!  Elisa reminded me so much of myself when I was her age – I was a tomboyish daddy’s girl who was good in school.  That’s great from an adult’s perspective, but it doesn’t always make you popular with your peers when you’re in high school.  I loved the way Elisa expressed her confidence at some things and her pain at others.  It was wonderful seeing her discover her inner strength.

I also loved Elisa’s English teacher, Dr. Charmin.  She should serve as a reminder to all adults to reach out to children who they perceive might be struggling with something in their lives.

This is only the second one of Beth Kephart’s books that I’ve read but I’m anxious to read more and I’m really looking forward to the adult novel she has coming out.  She just has a way with words that captivates the reader and transports you into the world of the book.  Her writing is lyrical and magical and I highly recommend it.

37 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2009 6:18 am

    I don’t know that I was plain or tomboyish, but I certainly went my own way when I was younger. And I grew up on a farm and wasn’t afraid to get dirty and work hard. The book sounds compelling!

  2. September 3, 2009 6:30 am

    I absolutely adored this book and I think your review is perfect! I can’t recommend this book enough for young adults as well as regular old adults. Ms. Kephart is one of my favorite authors!

  3. September 3, 2009 6:46 am

    I need to get on the ball and read Nothing But Ghosts and then go on to this one. I want to be caught up by the time her adult novels come out. This particular book appears to reach something deep inside and I like that.

  4. September 3, 2009 6:48 am

    Oh, BermudaOnion, thank you for this so wonderful, so uplifting review (you saw things in the book that I’ve never seen a reviewer see; I loved the surprise of your words). You and I and Elisa have, it seems, a lot in common, and perhaps I’ve fallen in so easily with your blog because of that. Thank you.

  5. thebookzombie permalink
    September 3, 2009 6:51 am

    This sounds really good, I’m going to need to grab this (as well as Nothing But Ghosts) 🙂

  6. September 3, 2009 7:46 am

    I must get this! I’m not supposed to be buying books but I think it might be another gift to myself when my MA is over. Elisa sounds much like me, in that I was certainly tomboyish and too smart to be very popular. I have a feeling I’d love this.

  7. September 3, 2009 8:01 am

    I must make this my next Beth book. I think I would love it and totally relate to Elisa.

  8. September 3, 2009 8:08 am

    I kept thinking where do I know the name Beth Kephart from, then you put me out of my misery with ‘Nothing But Ghosts.’ I was worried I would be searching the web.

  9. September 3, 2009 8:13 am

    I need to get to Beth Kephart too. There doesn’t seem to be any such thing as a bad review of her books!

  10. September 3, 2009 8:28 am

    Great review. I think I might have to check out some of Beth’s work after reading about this and Nothing But Ghosts.

  11. September 3, 2009 8:30 am

    This sounds like a great book. This part of your review totally hooked me:
    “She just has a way with words that captivates the reader and transports you into the world of the book. Her writing is lyrical and magical and I highly recommend it.”

    Straight From Hel

  12. September 3, 2009 8:43 am

    WoW Kathy, this sounds really good. I love to read stories that take me back to earlier times as a school girl. I had not read of this one, so thanks.

  13. September 3, 2009 9:01 am

    This sounds like a great book. I enjoyed Nothing But Ghosts and have not read anything more by this author. Reading your review, it must be time to pick her up again. 🙂

  14. September 3, 2009 9:49 am

    Ok just added another to my must read list!
    Sounds like an awesome read, great review!
    Have a great day,
    Natalie :0)

  15. September 3, 2009 10:22 am

    This sounds like a great book and an author I should be reading!

  16. stacybuckeye permalink
    September 3, 2009 10:43 am

    This sounds fantastic!

  17. September 3, 2009 11:32 am

    Congratulations on winning this book! Undercover sounds great. Thanks for a terrific review!

  18. September 3, 2009 1:44 pm

    This does sound like a really good book. I also was a tomboy in school, but opposite you, my grades stunk! lol

  19. September 3, 2009 3:41 pm

    It sounds like this was a fun book for you, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I think I would like it too. I think it’s neat that you identified so much with the main character, it’s great when that happens.

  20. September 3, 2009 4:57 pm

    After reading and loving Nothing But Ghosts, I’m determined to read all of Beth Kephart’s books. It’s good to know this one is also excellent.

  21. September 3, 2009 7:34 pm

    I need to read Beth Kephart’s books soon! I’ve heard a lot of good things about them. I’m glad you enjoyed this book! 🙂

  22. September 3, 2009 7:54 pm

    yay! I love Beth and I love this book and so there isn’t much else for me to say. 🙂

  23. September 3, 2009 7:57 pm

    Thank you for sharing this — I’m interested. I was a late bloomer and totally understand watching from outside the “circle” thinking the beautiful, popular people have it all together. I was spared many things. One of my life changing events was when a teacher suggested I enter the Junior Miss pageant.

  24. September 3, 2009 10:35 pm

    Nona absolutely loves this author. She thought this book was really awesome too. 🙂

  25. September 3, 2009 10:51 pm

    I loved the teacher in this book, too. May she inspire many!

    Such a nice review of this terrific book.

  26. September 4, 2009 2:08 am

    Great review. You certainly make this sound interesting.

  27. September 4, 2009 6:45 am

    I’m anxious to read another Kephart book; I am very impressed after reading Nothing But Ghosts – she’s really great.

  28. September 4, 2009 11:41 am

    Her first book is 0n my tbr. I have read so many wonderful things about Beth’s writing. Thanks for another great review and recommendation.

  29. September 4, 2009 1:36 pm

    Sounds like a great book. I haven’t read anything by this author, but I keep hearing good things about her books. I’ll have to check them out some time.

  30. September 4, 2009 9:54 pm

    I loved the way you wrote about this book. This is a favorite read of this year for me…Kephart’s writing is magical!!

  31. justicejenniferreads permalink
    September 5, 2009 10:47 pm

    This book sounds wonderful – so relateable for me. Elisa sounds a lot like me when I was in high school as well. And I love books that I can relate to. Great review.

  32. September 6, 2009 8:04 am

    This sounds like so much fun. I definitely was and really, still am, one of the guys. While I generally always had a boyfriend, I was still used as a wingman (and maybe still am) for my guy friends. Fun!

  33. September 6, 2009 12:16 pm

    So glad you enjoyed it! It does sound like an enjoyable read. It’s on my TBR list, too.

  34. September 6, 2009 6:51 pm

    Nice review! I haven’t read anything by Beth Kephart yet, so I must remedy that. I will keep this book in mind when I’m looking 🙂

  35. September 6, 2009 7:51 pm

    How nice that Beth Kephart left you a comment!

  36. September 9, 2009 5:10 pm

    I got this one after I read and enjoyed Nothing But Ghosts. I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for the review!

  37. September 10, 2009 9:38 pm

    Love the excerpt you provided. That imagery isn’t something you find every day!

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