The Unexpected Spy

I was lucky enough to be sent an advanced copy of The Unexpected Spy through Macmillan and Netgalley. This is the true story of a young woman’s experience being recruited by the CIA right out of university and getting immersed into the world of searching for terrorist activity. She then makes a move to the FBI, and then ultimately and bravely makes the decision to become a high school History teacher.

Sadly, this is the first TRUE story I’ve read about a woman’s experience as a spy. Now, I know there are probably other memoirs out there and maybe it’s because I’ve had my head buried in historical fiction and murder mysteries that I’ve never come across them.

I so enjoyed this book. Maybe it was because I wanted to be a secret service agent when I was a kid. In seventh grade was the attempted assassination of President Regan. I was obsessed. I clipped all the newspaper articles of the assassin and kept them in a folder. I would read, and reread the contents of my folder, imagining myself in a dark suit and sunglasses shoving the President aside and taking down the assassin with one perfectly aimed gunshot, thus saving the day. Or maybe because Tracy, like me, is a high school teacher, and I too, find joy and fulfilment educating and inspiring young women.

Tracy’s journey was not an easy one. She is honest about the sexism and harassment that exits in both the CIA and the FBI. She is often patronized and treated with condescension with a constant pressure of having to prove herself. I appreciated how she paralleled childhood insecurities she possessed as a child with the experiences she was experiencing in their professional life. It is these parallels that make me strongly consider this as a welcome addition to any classroom library.

Walder’s story would serve as a strong non-fiction choice for literature circles. Walder’s book is well written, honest and indeed inspiring. High school is a time where young women need to be exposed to a plethora of examples of what they can do with their life outside of high school. I don’t believe “spy” is an option most women consider an option and how wonderful is it to know that you can choose to live a life of adventure saving the world from bad guys!

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