Orphan Monster Spy

Sarah and her mother's attempt to flee Nazi Germany fails, leaving Sarah alone near the Swiss border. "A Jew with no papers" being chased by the men who killed her mother, Sarah escapes onto the roof of a deserted warehouse. But she is not alone: someone is on the roof, "standing and watching" as if "looking for a rare bird." Although this man represents a threat, through a series of brave (and potentially stupid) actions, Sarah saves his life.

Captain Jeremy Floyd--a British spy--sees potential in Sarah. She is 15 years old, but her naturally small build and years of malnutrition have made her appear to be no older than 11; she is half-Jewish, but her Rapunzel-like "golden hair" and "pale blue" eyes make her appear Aryan; and she is adept at both "accent recognition" and fluid, fast-thinking lies. With her set of skills, Floyd believes Sarah could be the perfect spy for his current mission: to stop a Nazi scientist from developing a "bomb... with enough destructive power to flatten a city." Sarah enrolls at the Nationalist Socialist school that the scientist's daughter attends with the directive to befriend the girl and find the bomb.

Matt Killeen's debut work is captivating, the 400 pages flying by. Sarah's experiences are deeply upsetting and her growth hard-won, the thrilling spy heroics engaging yet always aware of the brutal framework in which they take place. Orphan Monster Spy features a teen girl surviving--and thriving--in situations much more dangerous and frightening than anything 007 experienced, and he never had to pretend to be "a good... little monster" to survive. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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