The Cantors were once a happy family, but now they are drifting apart. The mother and older daughter, Jilly, match, with their gleaming smiles and shiny blond hair. The father is often out of town on business, sending her postcards from other cities. The youngest daughter, Elisa, would rather be alone with her thoughts than gossiping with her classmates.
Elisa has a talent for writing and poetry. At school, she secretly writes love notes for boys to give to the girls they like - the kind of girl she will never be - the kind of girl she has no desire to be. After taking her mother's old skates down to a frozen pond, she discovers a new talent: ice skating. She tries to keep these talents hidden and stay undercover, but, bit by bit, a classmate, a teacher, and her family discover them - discover her.
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 don't deserve it.
Written in lyrical, descriptive prose with occasional poems and quotes from Cyrano de Bergerac, Undercover is like Elisa: quietly beautiful, artistic, and hopeful.
This review is also available at YA Book Central.
Personal Note: When Theo called Elisa a walking encyclopedia, I grinned, having been called that many times in my life.
Read my review of Beth Kephart's novel House of Dance.
Check out my interview with Beth Kephart.