Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy

By Ally Carter

236 pages

Published by Hyperion Paperbacks (2008)

Apparently this story is a part of a series called the Gallagher Girls, centred around the lives of girls studying at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women. The Gallagher Academy, to an outsider’s eyes, is an exclusive private school that catered to the snobbish elite community. But in reality, it is an exclusive school to train the next generation of spies and government operatives. They studied covert operations, surveillance and counter-surveillance, foreign language and culture, and history of espionage, among others.

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy began with Cameron “Cammie” Morgan’s debriefing session with the CIA; apparently she had landed into trouble after committing some sort of security breach by getting involved with a boy named Josh (anyone who had not read the previous title in this series can only wonder what had happened). 

Cammie is the daughter of great CIA operatives; her mother is also the headmistress for the Gallagher Academy while her father served abroad and had not returned since. People called her “Chameleon” for she supposedly had the skills to sneak around or disappear without trace – but in this story, she had not been much of a chameleon, though.

One day, the Gallagher Academy administration introduced the girls to another spy school called the Blackthorne Academy – a school similar to theirs, only that it was a boys’ school. A dozen selected boys from Blackthorne came to stay at the Gallagher Academy for several weeks as exchange students.

It was not long before Cammie got herself involved with a cute Blackthorne boy named Zach, who seemed to have been attracted towards her, but had been most subtle. Zach seemed to be utilising his tradecraft skills to play a game on Cammie to see how she really felt about him; and Cammie had been caught off-guard almost all the time. Zach knew almost everything about Cammie, yet she knew nothing about Zach.

When Cammie realized that she and her friends knew nothing about the Blackthorne boys, the girls tried practicing their tradecraft skills to spy on the boys. And it irked me beyond reason that Zach always knew what the girls were up to. Cammie can practically hid nothing from Zach; not even her supposedly legendary “chameleon” skills could save her from Zach’s surveillance.

Worst, Cammie had botched almost all her covert operation exercises, either exposing herself or forgetting her mission, every time she faced a cute boy – be it ex-boyfriend Josh or new boy Zach. Overall, the girls always fell a step behind the boys. The boys were more advanced in their skills and knowledge on espionage operations.

Actually the managements of Gallagher Academy and Blackthorne had, for some time, been planning to do a joint training to see if their students can cooperate if the need arises. The students of Gallagher Academy is, after all, expected to work with the boys of Blackthorne as counterparts someday after they graduated.

So one day, the teachers for both schools staged a mock security breach situation at Gallagher Academy – they pretended that the names of the Gallagher Academy alumni had been compromised by an unknown party who apparently intended to expose them soon. That would be a very major security threat, for if the names fell into the hands of the country’s enemies, the lives of almost all CIA operatives could be endangered.

So realistic was the teachers’ performances that the girls thought the threat was real. Suddenly the girls of Gallagher Academy began to work with the boys of Blackthorne to trace down the ‘criminal’ who was supposed to be in possession of the data. The students succeeded in tracing the culprit – a role-player – and even forcing him to submission.

As soon as the mission was accomplished, all the teachers made an appearance at the location and revealed to their students what was really happening – the whole security breach thing was just a practical test for them! The girls and the boys all passed the test in flying colours, and the teachers of both schools were pleased that they had shown that they can excellently work together. Someday, they will have to work together as counterparts after all.


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