"Dragonfly" Dodges Nazis and Cliches

Leila Meachams WW2 spy drama is beautifully composed. It has clear writing, sympathetic characters, and an intriguing setting. It also kept my heart pounding so much that it should have counted as a cardio work-out. At 576 pages, I could have finished reading it in a single, tea-fueled weekend, but instead it took me two weeks. The intense suspense made it so I could not read more than forty minutes at a time.

Dragonfly is the group code name of five American spies, all around 22 years old, strategically placed in various locations that maximize their attempts to subvert Nazi plans in Nazi-occupied Paris. Yeah, that Nazi-occupied Paris. Each of the main characters is beautifully rendered, and the story bounces around their independent lives in Paris. They are clever, and brave, and kind. I just knew that they were going to break my heart, and I spent two weeks terrified for these kids. Each has a unique backstory that compels them to risk their lives (and sanity) by volunteering to be undercover.

Meacham builds a web so taut that I don’t want to spoil any more than I already have. She also does a beautiful job displaying how the horrors of the Nazi’s is juxtaposed by the humanity of individual people, both French rebels, Allied forces, and the Germans who love their homeland and hate Hitler.

When I finally finished and closed the back cover, I walked in the sunlight and thought of nameless heroes, eulogized villains, and the scars that transcend generations.