Title: Who Is Vera Kelly?
Author: Rosalie Knecht
Page Count: 246 pgs
Publisher: Tin House Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction, LGBTQ, Thriller
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Trigger Warnings: Domestic Abuse, Alcohol.
New York City, 1962. Vera Kelly is struggling to make rent and blend into the underground gay scene in Greenwich Village. She’s working night shifts at a radio station when her quick wits, sharp tongue, and technical skills get her noticed by a recruiter for the CIA. Next thing she knows she’s in Argentina, tasked with wiretapping a congressman and infiltrating a group of student activists in Buenos Aires. As Vera becomes more and more enmeshed with the young radicals, the fragile local government begins to split at the seams.
When a betrayal leaves her stranded in the wake of a coup, Vera learns the Cold War makes for strange and unexpected bedfellows, and she’s forced to take extreme measures to save herself. An exhilarating page turner and perceptive coming-of-age story, Who Is Vera Kelly? introduces an original, wry and whip-smart female spy for the twenty-first century.
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About The Author
Rosalie Knecht is a writer, social worker, and translator in New York. She was born and raised in Pennsylvania and is the translator of Aira’s The Seamstress and the Wind. Her first novel, Relief Map, was published in March 2016 by Tin House.
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My Thoughts: Plot & World Building
At first, I was a bit discombobulated with each chapter abruptly switching between Vera’s past and present, but eventually eased into it. The majority of the novel takes place in 1960’s Argentina when Vera is undercover as a student to infiltrate a group of student radicals. We experience Vera’s life as an undercover CIA Agent in 1960’s Argentina, and her childhood in 1950’s Maryland.
Each chapter is short and sweet. The world building is really well written to envision every place the protagonist walks into and the appearance of characters. To be honest, I thought I could read this book within one sitting since it was incredibly short, but boy I was wrong.
This book is quite slow paced, plot wise that it just bored me half to death. I expected more of a fast or medium paced spy novel with action that will keep me on my toes in anticipation or each page addictive, but it was the exact opposite. But, I’d like to appreciate the cover which is absolutely STUNNING—wow!
When reading I also noticed the protagonist, Vera seems Bisexual because of her attraction to both genders. According to the Author, Vera is romantically interested in women, but attracted to James (a character in the book). So, if Vera was living in the modern era, she would describe herself as a Lesbian—who occasionally enjoys a fling with a man. Therefore, I’d say there is light LGBTQ rep in this novel.
Overall, my expectations weren’t met and this book because it just wasn’t meant for me. I truly did want to enjoy it, but I was really struggling to connect to the character, her life & plot.
I usually rate books I’ve read, but I didn’t finish this one so I’d rather not rate it.
Lori’s QOTD: If the opportunity was offered to you, would you become a spy?