If you have read any previous entries for this blog or followed my profile on Goodreads, you will know I am a big fan of the publishing house Tin House. I enjoy what they publish because often I find myself thinking about the titles long after I have read them. The books tend to get better as they age in my brain.
This would definitely be one of those books. I will admit while reading this through the first time, I was not a big fan which was surprising. I loved Relief Map by Rosalie Knecht, but something was not clicking with me with Vera Kelly. When I finished it, I started it again knowing the end of the book and just read the first quarter of the book again. That is when it clicked for me.
Vera Kelly is a book about self discovery.
Throughout the book, we alternate between two time lines one is later in her life where she is on a mission to eavesdrop on a political conversation in Argentina which begins to turn ugly during the revolution. The second timeline is her younger years where she is shaped by time in juvie, she has sexual encounters, and becomes the person we see in the later years- an almost accidental spy.
This is a slower moving book for a spy novel and that, I believe, is where the disconnect came for me. When I read the blurb and it mentioned spy, my mind went to Bourne or Bond or Atomic Blonde, but this is not that. There are action sequences, but this is primarily a book about self discovery. How did this girl, now a woman wind up in this predicament after just wanting to live her life around gay bars and struggles with rent. How do we become the person we are today?
Once that epiphany happened- self discovery first and spy second, I began to churn this book a bit more in the brain and wound up enjoying it. I will not go so far as to say it is my favorite Tin House books and I still think Relief Map is a better read, but this one is worth a read through too. Just don't expect big action, cool gadgets, or explosions. This espionage in the truest sense as you spy into her life and watch her become the person she becomes.
I gave this one 3.5 stars.
*I want to thank NetGalley and Tin House for the advanced copy. I received it in exchange for an honest review.*