Noor Inayat Khan
This is a WW2 true story for children twelve to seventeen. Brave, unselfish and resourceful Noor, a Muslim pacifist aged 29, and a trained radio operator, is dropped into occupied France to help the resistance. This is an exceptionally dangerous job; the radio operators’ lives are counted in months, if not weeks. The book is a gem of simple writing with consequential plotting, short sentences, chapters and dialogue. Descriptions are usually excellent, and her nail-biting escapes are very well described. There are few technical errors, but to hide a 1940s radio set in a damp, steamy greenhouse is one.
Unfortunately, there are occasional clichés and some sloppy writing. For example, Nazis are greasy with beady little eyes she wants to scratch out. Later, we have a ‘barrage’ of conversation, a ‘sneaky breeze’, ‘lined-up sheds’ (not rows of) and a single person being ‘herded’. This is a pity because Noor’s story is inspirational and deserves better.
This book is one of Bloomsbury’s Real Lives ‘narrative biographies’ aimed at young people of 12 plus and designed to tell the inspiring stories of some of Britain’s unsung heroes – Noor posthumously won the George Cross and the Croix de Guerre – and to get children interested in an important time in our nation’s history.