Before Verity . . . there was Julie. When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she'd imagined won't be exactly what she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather's estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family's employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital. Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scottish Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister, Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she experiences firsthand some of the prejudices they've grown used to—a stark contrast to her own upbringing—and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation. Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime. This exhilarating coming-of-age story, a prequel to the Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, returns to a beloved character just before she first takes flight.
In 1938, Lady Julia Beaufort-Stuart, 15, returns from boarding school for one last idyllic summer at her late grandfather's Scottish estate, which has been sold to pay his medical bills. Her plans are upended when she's assaulted near the river where she and her grandfather harvested mussels for their pearls. Rescued by tinkers who worked her family's estate for centuries, Julia awakens with no memory of who knocked her unconscious and is startled to learn that a scholar hired to catalogue the estate's antiquities is missing. Julia enlists the tinkers, Euan and Ellen McEwen, to help unravel what's happened, partly to ensure that discrimination against the tinkers doesn't result in their arrest for crimes they didn't commit. Each thread of this novel is exquisitely woven; Wein is a deft plotter the complex narrative is paced like a mystery and vivid Scottish slang adds humor and texture. It isn't necessary to have read Code Name Verity to enjoy this prequel, but readers who fell in love with Julia the spy will appreciate learning about where she first discovered what it means to be a friend. Ages 12 up.