Monday, September 29, 2014

Rose Under Fire - Elizabeth Wein

Summary: While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbr├╝ck, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that's in store for her? (Summary and pic from

My Review: Oh my. I really loved this book. It’s the companion book to Code Name Verity, and as I’m sure you remember (haha!) Code Name Verity is one of my top fave books. (In case you don’t remember, here is that list again).

So it’s no surprise that I really loved Rose Under Fire as well. In fact, I dare say that I read this one more quickly and was more entranced by it. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a concentration camp book. They’re always an emotionally difficult read and at times I have to actually stop and just step away because it is horrific to read about the sufferings and tragedy, but I think it’s important that I do read them and that I do periodically step into that horror and remember that this really happened and that, as the old adage says, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” And I think this is the appropriate time to reconfirm once again that I hope Hitler is burning in hell even as I write this. Just putting that out there.

This story is inspiring, as it shows strength of character and devotion and resilience in situations where it would appear there is no hope. The characters are a fine mix of both ordinary and extraordinary people who are put in impossible situations and who face them with strength and bravery. I loved that the author did so much research and when I looked into some of her resources that she used (especially the internet resources), I was able to confirm that many of the characters were based at least in part on women who survived to tell the tale of what really happened in Ravensbruck.

This is a juvenile fiction book, but don’t think that because of that it’s going to be light sauce on the horror of the concentration camp. In fact, I think this book has some of the most realistic descriptions of day to day living in this particular camp, and probably others as well. However, because it was written for a YA Fic audience, those situations are very clearly written and understandable, possibly in ways I hadn’t understood before.

After reading Rose Under Fire, as with many historical fiction topics that I find fascinating, I got a little obsessed and searched out some of the references Wein includes in her “General Bibliography” and “Internet Sources.” And that includes getting some books on interlibrary loan from my own library. I’m serious, people. That’s a commitment for me.

Rose Under Fire is certainly the kind of book that not only brings you through the actual situation, but leaves you wanting to research and understand more. I found it very well-written and heartbreaking. If you love historical fiction, especially the World War II genre, or even if you haven’t read a book on concentration camps in awhile and you are feeling like it’s time to go there again, you should definitely give it a try.

My Rating: 5 stars

For the sensitive reader: This book is based on actual accounts of women who lived in Ravensbruck, so it is horrific, but is on par with others of its genre.

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