BookPage Teen Top Pick, May 2017
Before the start of World War II—years before the events of Printz Honor-winning Code Name Verity, which tells the story of Julie Beaufort-Stuart’s capture by the Gestapo in occupied France—Julie was an unsure but privileged 15-year-old girl on break from school. In June of 1938, Julie arrives at her late grandfather’s Scottish estate to help her mother and grandmother pack up the contents of the house in preparation for its sale. But she is inexplicably attacked on a nearby riverbank and left for dead. She is rescued by two Travellers, a brother and sister from a nomadic group native to Scotland, who are treated cruelly by Julie’s own friends and neighbors. Julie remembers little of the attack, but she believes it may have something to do with the mysterious disappearance of the archivist from her grandfather’s estate. Throw in a washed-up body, priceless river pearls and an unexpected romance, and readers will come to understand how Julie became a tenacious and brave British spy years later.
Elizabeth Wein masterfully weaves a story of friendship, love and loss against the backdrop of the breathtaking Scottish Highlands. The descriptions of the Scottish burns, the melodic dialect and the shared culture between the Scottish gentry and Travellers will make readers think they’ve been transported back in time. For readers who haven’t already been introduced to Wein through Code Name Verity, The Pearl Thief is a beautiful starting point.
Kimberly Giarratano is the author of Grunge Gods and Graveyards, a young adult paranormal mystery.