Undercover

Undercover

by Beth Kephart
3.7 14

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Overview

Undercover by Beth Kephart

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.

National Book Award nominee Beth Kephart's first young adult novel is a stunning debut.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061906053
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/26/2009
Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
File size: 367 KB
Age Range: 13 Years

About the Author

Beth Kephart was nominated for a National Book Award for her memoir A Slant of Sun. Her first novel for teens, Undercover, received four starred reviews and was named a Best Book by Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, and Amazon.com. In 2005 Beth was awarded the Speakeasy Poetry Prize. She has also written Into the Tangle of Friendship: A Memoir of the Things That Matter; Still Love in Strange Places: A Memoir; Ghosts in the Garden: Reflections on Endings, Beginnings, and the Unearthing of Self; Flow: The Life and Times of Philadelphia's Schuylkill River; Zenobia: The Curious Book of Business; and House of Dance. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family.

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Undercover 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Having recently read NOTHING BUT GHOSTS, I was anxious to crack open another Beth Kephart novel. UNDERCOVER was her first novel, and I'm surprised I missed it. According to the cover, Kephart was a "National Book Award Nominee" and a well-deserved one, I'd say. Elisa has always viewed herself as more of her father's daughter. Her sister, Jilly, and her mother share a passion for make-up and fashion. They are always dressed in perfectly matched colors with every hair in place. Elisa, on the other hand, has perpetually wild hair and could care less about clothes and colors. Her passion lies in words and nature. The only person who understands Elisa is suddenly missing from her life. Her father shares her interest in words and literature, but his extended business trip is keeping him from home. At least that's the excuse Elisa imagines as she tries to keep him up-to-date with letters sent to distant San Francisco. As the days and weeks pass, it's becoming more obvious that his business travel may be a side-effect of trouble in her parents' marriage. Elisa has previously accepted her backseat in life. At home she watches her mother and sister parade, and at school she uses her talent for poetry to ghost-write inspirational love poems for her male classmates to use as they court girls that don't even know Elisa exists. All this has been satisfying enough until she met Theo. Theo gladly accepts Elisa's poem offerings because he's head-over-heels in love with Lila. Without Elisa's words, he knows he wouldn't have a chance. He shows his appreciation by developing a friendship with Elisa, but that friendship sparks something in her she never felt before. With her father absent and conflicting feelings about Theo filling her thoughts, Elisa seeks peace by grabbing a pair of her mother's old ice skates and escapes to the hidden ice of a secluded pond. The freedom she feels as she imagines beautiful music and teaches herself to skate helps her cope with the twisting emotions that have suddenly invaded her life. Readers will be immediately captivated by Kephart's smooth and lyrical prose. Her words and story flow as cleanly and easily as Elisa's skates on the pond. UNDERCOVER portrays Elisa's struggle to deal with insecurities and push herself to achieve what those around her know she is capable of achieving. Teens will easily relate to her desire to fit in both at home and at school, yet not compromise her own personal spirit and view.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
"What I knew wasn't mine. That's the thing about being undercover: You know what you know, and you cannot act on it." Elisa Cantor is used to blending into the background. At home she is always in the shadow of her glamorous mother and sister, watching and wandering like her father. At school she is self-conscious and keen to stay invisible. After all, it's so much easier to observe things when no one is looking at you. In the woods Elisa is able to observe nature, like her father, as an undercover operative. At school, she can use everything she sees and finds to secretly write love notes for the boys in her school like a modern day Cyrano De Bergerac. Elisa thinks she is fine with all of that; with being undercover. But when Theo Moses starts asking for notes to win over Lila--a pretty, popular girl who is always ready to remind Elisa that she is neither--Elisa isn't sure she wants to stay in the shadows anymore. As she hones her voice writing poems for herself--not pretending to be anyone else--and learns more about Theo, Elisa begins to wonder if there could be more to her life. With her father away on an extended trip and her family crumbling under the weight of his absence, Elisa really needs for there to be something more. When Elisa discovers a hidden pond and a talent for ice skating, she realizes it might be time for her to stop hiding in Undercover (2007) by Beth Kephart. Undercover is a marvelous novel, partly a retelling of the play Cyrano De Bergerac and partly something entirely unique. Elisa is a narrator who sees the world not just as it is but also through her own lens, always with a sense of whimsy and wonder. Readers are easily drawn into Elisa's appreciation for poetry when she discovers new writers and forms and begins to write poems of her own (included throughout the narrative and also in bonus material at the end of the paperback edition). Kephart uses poetry and prose to tell a layered story about love in all of its forms whether for family, friends, nature or even for words. Elisa's journey as she learns to love and respect herself is also beautifully told. Undercover is a slim book that has a lot to say about honesty, family and learning who you want to be. Highly recommended. Possible Pairings: Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo, Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley, Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg, The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee, To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han, Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu, And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, Drawing the Ocean by Carolyn MacCullough, Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmond Rostand, This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell, The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott, Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
Elisa secretly writes love poems for her classmates who give the poems to the girl they like. Then she meets Theo who likes a girl name Lila and later on Elisa realizes that she likes Theo. But Elisa has more to worry about where her dad's work has him travel a lot. What helps her deal with all of this is skating at a pond. Most of the story seemed more about Elisa trying to reunite her family and less on Theo. I mean there are moments with Theo and all but still. Liked the book and it got me interested in reading more about Cyrano. And if you haven't read Cyrano then well, there's spoilers in this book.
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Angelflowers More than 1 year ago
Although "Undercover" started out promising, its ending completely overshadows the beautiful language and unique points of view. All I will say is that the main character's life is full of many injustices, and only one is solved by the end of the book. The rest are left open-ended, and various supporting characters are never really punished for their cruel actions. The end just didn't bring about any feelings of closure and really ruined what could have been a very satisfying read.
Lorenzyanatti55 More than 1 year ago
Kephart writes like a poet. Very beautiful book, plus all the skating stuff is an added bonus. Some truly unforgettable scenes out on the ice. A nice love story. One of the best new YA books around for sure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
focusedBB More than 1 year ago
I am an adult yet I loved this book! Yes, it's written from a 10th grader's perspective but she's so smart and so not clingy to the boys! She is a good role model for our teen girls out there because she's smart but not perfect and is able to endure through difficulties. This book is clean, no cursing, no inappropriate sexual content. The writer is talented. The reading is smooth but challenging because poems are written throughout. I recommend it for teens and adults.