Rose Under Fire — Elizabeth Wein

Out September 10, 2013 — Disney Hyperion

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Rose Under Fire is a companion novel to Code Name Verity (You don’t have to have read Code Name Verity to understand this book).  Justice is an American ATA pilot gets caught by the Nazi’s while trying to be heroic and is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp. There she meets and befriends the Rabbits, the Polish women that the Nazi’s preformed operations. Trapped in impossible circumstances, Rose is able to find hope through the bravery, loyalty and courage of her new family and fellow prisoners.

Review: Unforgettable and heart-wrenching, Rose Under Fire is the extraordinary story of Rose Justice. I was incredibly excited to read Wein’s companion novel, but I was also worried that it wouldn’t live up to the greatness of its predecessor. I shouldn’t have worried. Rose Under Fire is even better than Code Name VerityI also liked that Maddie make a reappearance for short periods in this book. Her part was my favorite in Code Name Verity. 

Rose had a unique perspective on the war.  She is an American who came over and had an untarnished view of the war. She was more excited to be there than downtrodden English who have been in the war for years at this point. This is even more apparent once Rose gets to Ravensbrück. The stark contrast of the sheltered American girl with the girls who have basically grown up in the concentration camp was artfully done. Rose gets thrust into the horror of the Holocaust. Her account felt very real. When compared to the Rabbits, especially Roz’a, who didn’t have a sense of self prior to the War,  you see that Rose was her own person and eventually will be again. Rose Under Fire wasn’t a series of huge horrors, but more of the day to day struggles to survive. Because of this, there was not a lot of death in this account. Even though I was almost always in tears or near tears, this book was hard to read for different reasons other than death. Part of the reason this book is so difficult and compelling is that it shows human resilience in the face of remarkable circumstances juxtaposed next to those who have completely given up and again with luxury and privilege.

My favorite part of the book was Rose’s poetry. It was sprinkled throughout the novel, and added beauty, humor, desperation whenever it was needed. It could serve to bring give escape to the reader or root the reader back in the horror of Rose’s story. This stylistic choice really gave the book something more.

“It claws at life, weaving a raft of suckering roots to pierce the earth. The first thin shoot is fierce and green, a pliant whip of furious briar” – Excerpt from The Subtle Briar

Rose Under Fire is a powerful book that I think will resonate with teens and adults alike. This coming of age story told in a concentration camp is moving and will not soon be forgotten.

**Thank you to Disney Book Group for providing me a copy through Netgalley.**

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