The Brightwood Code

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In a breathless, haunting, and rich historical mystery, New York Times bestselling author Monica Hesse speaks to the depths of trauma and the power of memory.

Seven months ago, Edda was on the World War I front lines as one of two hundred “Hello Girls,” female switchboard operators employed by the US Army. She spent her nights memorizing secret connection codes to stay ahead of spying enemies, and her days connecting vital calls between platoons and bases and generals, all trying to survive—and win—a brutal war. Their lives were in Edda’s hands, and one day, in fateful seconds, everything went wrong.

Now, Edda is back in Washington, DC, working as an American Bell Telephone operator, the picture of respectability. But when her shift ends, Edda is barely hanging on, desperate to forget the circumstances that cut her time overseas short. When Edda receives a panicked phone call from someone who utters the fateful code word “Brightwood,” she has no choice but to confront her past. With precious few clues and help only from Theo, a young man bearing his own WWI scars, Edda races to uncover what secrets may have followed her across the ocean.

Timely and unforgettable,The Brightwood Code sheds light on hidden history and the brutality of being a woman in a war built by men.

Monica Hesse is the New York Times bestselling author of Girl in the Blue CoatAmerican FireThe War Outside, and They Went Left, as well as a Pulitzer Prize finalist columnist at the Washington Post. She lives outside Washington, DC with her family.

“Readers biting their nails over Edda’s fictional journey will come up for air amazed by the real heroism of the Hello Girls. Monica Hesse has a genius for illuminating the darker corners of history with a kaleidoscope of heartbreaking characters and astonishing plot twists.” —Elizabeth Wein, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Code Name Verity and Stateless
* "[A] gripping historical thriller." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "Hesse yet again proves herself to be a master in matching a compelling mystery with a vividly detailed historical setting [in] a book that is an absolute page-turner…This easily deserves a spot next to Wein’s Code Name Verity as an exemplar of the wartime drama." —BCCB, starred review

* “An evocative novel that seamlessly blends elements of mystery, history, and psychology, this is a must-read for anyone looking for a thought-provoking puzzle that explores the lasting impacts of war. Highly recommended.” —SLJ, starred review

“Engaging writing will have readers racing to discover the secret. A well-researched work that stands out for its explorations of guilt and trauma.”—Kirkus


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