Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Review: Undercover by Beth Kephart

UNDERCOVER by Beth Kephart
A review from a writers perspective

Imagine words pirouetting in a perfectly choreographed line straight into the depth of your soul. Along the way their magic softens calluses and sets free the hidden and the buried things that you've justified into darkness yet have managed to take root in your very core. The words breeze by, stir up the muck and set them free. This phenomenon may result in tears, relief, latent therapy or just made you take time to stop and think, but they've done some good none-the-less, in one way or another. That's what lyrical language does for me. That's what this book did. Beautifully written.

Why I picked it up? I went to and looked for reading suggestions. The description and the mention of "lyrical language" caught my eye.

The Story: The story in itself is simple: Girl (Elisa) with low self esteem and a crumbling home life likes boy. Boy dates another girl. What sets this book apart from other books with a similar story line is the materials with which it is woven into an intricate and thoughtful design. Kephart created a modern day, teen Cyrano De Bergerac (Elisa) and adorned her with a unique perspective on life and a love for skating that helps her step out of her shell so she can face her troubles with confidence and realize the beauty within herself.

The Characters: Most of the characters are well-rounded and well-done. The only Character that I think could have been more developed was Lila, the girlfriend of our main characters love interest. Lila's character is flat and since we know so little about what fuels her over-dramatic outbursts towards Elisa, it makes Lila's character and her excessive actions feel a bit forced.

The Voice: The things that make up the voice of this book: The lyrical language (of course) Even though this is a lyrical book Kephart is still able to maintain an authentic teen mindset and thought process, Elisa's unique perspective and contemplation about the world around her, strong use of symbolism with a statue, a lake and the change of seasons.

The Underlying Theme: What is going on beneath this regular girl with regular problems? She is learning to not give into her troubles and let them keep her from having what she wants just because she has always believed that she didn't deserve them.

I believe that the best of the best of the books out there have a sentence or a paragraph (usually found somewhere in the last quarter of the book that states or gives clue to the underlying theme of the book. Since it is written so well, I want to share this paragraph where I found (what I believe to be) the underlying theme.

Part 2 chapter 18
setting: Elisa is contemplating her honors English class study of Cyrano De Bergerac as he cares for Roxanne after the death of Christian, yet he never tells her the truth of his love and his letters, that the words that made her fall in love with Christian were really his words and his sentiments.
". . . . But what does he do, for fourteen years? He attends to Roxanne's fantasy. 'It is written/ that I should build for others and be forgotten . . .' he says. 'I stand below in dark--'tis all my story--/while others climb to snatch the kiss of glory.'
Here's what I think, when I think about it more: beauty is a cruel deception, true. But the greatest tragedy of all is letting invisibility win. It's choosing to give up the thing you want because you think you don't deserve it."

On a scale from 1-5 I give this book a 4. It's a great read and a ton of literary jewels for a writer to uncover and put in their little literary box of treasures.


Bish Denham said...

Nice review Christy!

C.R. Evers said...

thnx bish!

Beth Kephart said...

Thank you for this! UNDERCOVER was my first YA book, and oh, what I have learned since then. One just keeps working toward better.

Thank you again,


PS (how fun to learn it is considered flashlightworthy!)

C.R. Evers said...

Wow Beth! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. What an honor. I can't wait to read your other books! I can't believe UNDERCOVER was your first YA book. It's masterful and certainly flashlight worthy! :0)

Anonymous said...

sounds like a great book! I'll have to add it to my mountain of TBR books!

And thank you for stopping by my blog the other day. It was nice to see you!

C.R. Evers said...

HI Donna! Thnx for stopping by. Make sure to put this one in your pile! It's worth it!

Liana said...

the cover is very eye catching. I may have to pick this one up!

C.R. Evers said...

Hi Liana! You should pick one up. You'll be glad that you did!

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Wonderful review, Christy! Another novel to add to my "to read" pile. Thank you!!!

C.R. Evers said...

Thanks Cynthia!

Solvang Sherrie said...

This is one of my favorite books from Beth Kephart. She's a great writer and a delightful person, too.

C.R. Evers said...

Thanks Sherrie! I just picked up a couple more of her books from the library. I can't wait to read them!

Kelly H-Y said...

Beautiful review ... I adore Beth Kephart and her gorgeous style of writing. When I read her words, I sometimes pause and think, "How in the world did she come up with that?!" It's amazing!