Book Review : Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

September 23, 2013 Book review 1 ★★★★★

From the moment I read Code Name Verity, I knew I had the buy Rose Under Fire the very day it got released. And with the size of my to-be-read list this is something I rarely do. However I made a rare exception and it was an excellent decision.

Book Review : Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth WeinRose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Published by Disney Hyperion on 10 Sept 2013
Genres: Historical Fiction, YA
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

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 Ravensbrück, 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?

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival


My Recap :

Rose Under Fire tells the story of Rose who is a young pilot and a poet. While flying a plane back to the UK from Paris duing WW2, she is captured by German aircraft and ends up in a concentration camp for the remainder of the war.

My Thoughts :

I loved Code Name Verity but I had a fear that Rose Under Fire wouldn’t measure up as it’s a very different format. We didn’t have the mystery of that book but it really made no difference at all to my reading experience. Elizabeth Wein does something very special with words and imagery that just grabs my attention and fires my imagination.

The story of life in a concentration camp is ugly and harsh and hugely disturbing because you know it really happened. These are stories that should never be forgotten, never be under emphasised. It will make you think of countries around the world that are war torn and where horror stories are being lived right now. By uncovering, exposing and rehashing these unpalatable truths, I do feel only good can come. Power is knowledge and turning a blind eye does no good for anyone.

I wasn’t aware of the stories before of ‘The Rabbits’ – the women who had medical experiments done on them. Again not easy to read but so important to document. What I loved about this book as well as that it doesn’t end with Rose leaving the camp (not a spoiler – this is revealed at the start) but it covers life post camp. It also shows that in war, there is never black and white, both sides have good characters and redeeming characteristics.

The characters in Rose Under Fire shine in that there are no heroines. These are girls, ordinary girls and young women who are put into horrible situations and they find strengths that you could never imagine. They dig deep for internal resources and kick into survival mode. Rose uses her skills with words to bring comfort and joy to situations that seem hopeless. Her poems give all the women hope and the courage to survive another day. And not just survival but her words foster spirit and encourage small, victorious acts of brave rebellion.

I have to admit I was slow to connect with Rose, it took a few chapters but when I did connect, I really connected. I will never forget Rose and her words and her poems. I feel the writing in the book is a bit like Rose’s character – lyrical and intelligent. You have the contrast of Rose describing something like the sky and how beautiful and ordinary it all is compared with the brutality all around her. A beautiful sky with floaty clouds to look at as she stands on the spot for hours and hours frozen, tired, hungry and often naked during roll calls. And what hit me hard was her innocence before it all began and how quickly she had to adjust to her new world.

“The walls. Twenty feet high and fenced with electric wire and skull-and-crossbones warning signs. There were a lot of empty trucks parked around us, but you could see the walls behind them. I still hadn’t figured out I was inside these walls – it was because I’d been locked blindly in the truck when I came through the gate. I kept looking at the gages and thinking, Gosh, I hope I don’t end up in there, whatever it is. Dreading that I probably would, and blissfully unaware that I already was.”

The secondary characters are equally special especially Irina a Russian pilot and Roza a Polish teenager. Very different but both have depth and strength that make them shine. This book shows that family can be found anywhere and is not just down to bloodlines. Standing together, giving and receiving solace under the worst circumstances makes you a family too, bound together forever.

Overall, an amazing book that gave me lots of uncomfortable moments but was still a joy to read. Riveting and unforgettable.

Who should read Rose Under Fire?

Highly recommended to those who enjoy historical fiction and sisterly, all-in-it-together plotlines. If you enjoyed Code Name Verity, then you should also love this one.


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One Response to “Book Review : Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein”

  1. Ciara @ Ciara Reads Books

    I had the same fear when I started reading this. I loved Code Name Verity, have recommended it to so many people and am still thinking about the ending, despite the fact that I read it about five months ago. At first I didn’t feel as emotionally connected to Rose as I did with Verity, because we see her in Paris, writing about all the horrific experiences she had at Ravensbruck and we already know she has escaped. She writes it all in a very detached way, but I imagine that detachment was the only way she could have wrote everything without breaking down.
    Ciara @ Ciara Reads Books recently posted…Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

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