Written by Beth Kephart Published Year 2007
Like 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. At home, Elisa's father, the one person she feels understands her, has left on an extended business trip. As the days grow shorter, Elisa worries that the increasingly urgent letters she sends her father won't bring him home. Like the undercover agent she feels she has become, Elisa retreats to a pond in the woods, where her talent for ice-skating gives her the confidence to come out from under cover and take center stage. But when Lila becomes jealous of Theo's friendship with Elisa, her revenge nearly destroys Elisa's ice-skating dreams and her plan to reunite her family.
By the stream the fox and she-fox stood Nose to nose beneath the stars Dancing the music of the woods.
The deer rapped a beat with their hooves, The ravens sang from raven hearts As by the stream the fox and she-fox stood.
The great owl called as a great owl would, The squirrels all shimmeid in the dark, Dancing the music of the woods.
Then from a north a fierce wind blew And broke the starry dance apart By the stream where the fox and the she-fox
stood. The ravens flew as the ravens would, Deer ran off, squirrels scuttled far away from the music of the woods.
The stars blinked out, also the moon. The air went silent, cold, and hard By the stream where the fox and the
she-fox stood Dancing the music of the woods.
I don't usually re-read books but I'm making Undercover an exception. There are books that you read simply because of the story and some like this one you just fell in love with because of the beautiful writing and the author's mastery of words. It's best not to over think when reading Undercover just because it's an National Book Award Nominee, take it as it is and enjoy it. I love how personal it felt, being privy to Elisa's thoughts and her reflections to changes around her is truly wonderful. Putting together the Cyrano angle, her knack for poetry, family issues and her newly discovered love for ice skating seemed tedious but it worked, I guess it happens? The ending leaves alot of possibilities, I liked it that Kephart didn't try hard to tie the loose ends it's mush better this way, leaving something for the readers to ponder on. I just noticed I tend to love books with simple realistic stories which usually are books for children, EL Konigsburg's The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place comes into mind.