The Enigma Girls: How Ten Teenagers Broke Ciphers, Kept Secrets, and Helped Win World War II

The Enigma Girls cover
The Enigma Girls: How Ten Teenagers Broke Ciphers, Kept Secrets, and Helped Win World War II by Candace Fleming

By Candace Fleming
Scholastic Focus / Scholastic, 2024
325 pages

Age 10 and older

Imagine accepting a job knowing nothing about the work, only to arrive by train at a nondescript location where the first order of business is to sign the Official Secrets Act. In the early days of World War II, many young British women found themselves arriving at Bletchley Park in the English countryside, the desire to serve their nation guiding their decisions to accept work so secretive that they had no idea what they’d be doing when they agreed they wouldn’t tell anyone about it. Candace Fleming’s fast-paced and engaging text chronicles the contributions of ten white British teens who contributed to the war effort through cipher work and related jobs. Going beyond the stories told by Hollywood, this volume highlights the dedication and daily efforts of young women who were more than just cogs in the machinations of England’s wartime spy and surveillance system. Short chapters illuminate the experiences of a range of young women from different backgrounds doing critical work for the British government while knowing nothing about one another or the bigger picture of their efforts. Isolated and exacting working conditions caused many to wonder what they had signed up for, while also acknowledging the opportunity afforded to their gender while many young men were away, fighting. Personal anecdotes about friendships, workplace hijinks, and post-war dreams round out the teens’ stories. Short, interspersed, informational sections offer a primer on codes and ciphers, while generous black-and-white photos provide helpful geographic and technical visuals. ©2024 Cooperative Children’s Book Center