Author Elizabeth Wein visits PNHS

At the Air Zoo, under the shadow of the massive Lockheed SR-71B Blackbird, Elizabeth Wein stood front and center as she presented to a large audience of adults and teenagers alike.The author of Code Name Verity and licensed pilot was the 2018 CommuniTEEN Read’s special guest when she came to talk to students during fourth hour and after school at the Air Zoo from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m on March 14th.  Many students went to read with her, talk about the book, ask questions, and even get their copy signed.

At the school, several English and History classes took time out of class to go visit Wein and talk about her book. She began by addressing the PNHS participation in the National Walkout earlier that day and explained how proud she was of this generation for pushing towards change. She moved on and spent a bit of time describing her process for how her novels come about and where her ideas spring from. Wein has spent her life living in many different places such as Scotland, where she saw much of the history that reflects in her books in front of her. Her French teacher from long ago is the reason she has delved this deeply into the history of WWII, and as a result, created stories such as Maddie’s and Verity’s from Code Name Verity. Freshman Jordyn Rifenberg said, “I enjoyed when she talked about her French teacher,” and freshman Wesley Flatt said, “She felt enthusiastic about the people and the events she’s seen, which is a good quality to possess.” The students felt her energy through her stories and connected to Code Name Verity more as well, since that is the one they had all read prior to her arrival. Freshman Jaleel Williams said, “The part in the book where they are being captured grabbed my attention.”

At the Air Zoo, Wein discussed background information for Code Name Verity and events throughout the book that she enjoyed writing. Her interest in history was evident, and it was clear that the author was fascinated with gathering parts of history to compile stories for all readers to enjoy. She mentioned historic female pilots such as Harriet Quimby, the first woman to get a pilot’s license in the United States and the first woman to fly across the English Channel. Much of Wein’s stories, though written during war time periods, connect to people and their capabilities now. She said, “They were people like us and there is a direct relation going from them to us.” The book’s events are timed in the past, but the themes Wein wants to convey are eternal, such as the theme of friendship Maddie and Verity exhibit. She said her favorite parts of writing this novel were when Maddie and Verity were in the plane when it went down because it unified her love of the history of women in aviation and the bond of friendship between the girls.

Wein is also the author of Rose Under Fire, The Pearl Thief, and Black Dove, White Raven among others.