Release Date ~ September 17, 2013
Doubleday Canada ~ Random House of Canada
Review copy received from RHC for review
Rose Justice is a young pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War. On her way back from a semi-secret flight in the waning days of the war, Rose is captured by the Germans and ends up in Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi women's concentration camp. There, she meets an unforgettable group of women, including a once glamorous and celebrated French detective novelist whose Jewish husband and three young sons have been killed; a resilient young girl who was a human guinea pig for Nazi doctors trying to learn how to treat German war wounds; and a Nachthexen, or Night Witch, a female fighter pilot and military ace for the Soviet air force. These damaged women must bond together to help each other survive.
In this companion volume to the critically acclaimed novel Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein continues to explore themes of friendship and loyalty, right and wrong, and unwavering bravery in the face of indescribable evil.
Historical fiction was the genre that convinced me I loved reading, specifically historical fiction during World War II. Reading Lois Lowry's Number the Stars was a life-changing experience for me. It makes sense that this is still the type of book I hold closely to my heart, and I don't think it's surprising that I loved Code Name Verity so much. Nor is it a surprise that Rose Under Fire made me feel the same way.
I also think it's timely that I'm publishing my review for this book on Remembrance Day. After all, Rose does say that she'll tell the world, doesn't she? Rose Under Fire is so much more than a story, it's a reminder to us all that we can't ever forget. And the reason we can't ever forget is because we have so much to learn from this story, and while Rose's story is fictional the circumstances are not.
- Rose's story is timely:
Every year that passes is another year that we've moved further away from World War II. And every year I wonder if this means that we're one step closer to forgetting. I sincerely hope not. This is why stories like this are so important, because it gives those of us who have never truly experienced war firsthand one method of understanding and empathizing. I believe there is something critical in remembrance.
- The value of friendship:
The one aspect of Rose Under Fire that stood out to me was Rose's experience in Ravensbruck. I thought it would be so full of despair that it would crush me, and I had to set the book aside for a while because of that. And of course it's heartbreaking. But the bonds Rose makes with the women she meets in the concentration camp are so unexpected and shockingly optimistic. I think that really says something about the difference a friend can make in a dark place.
- Elizabeth Wein's strength as a writer:
I struggled through the first half of Code Name Verity. But I finished it (and loved it) and I had an idea of what to expect when I started reading Rose Under Fire. But Rose Under fire is a very different book, because Rose is a very different character with another perspective. Rose's character change is subtle from the beginning of the book to its end, and that can be credited to Elizabeth Wein's talent. The story isn't merely written so much as it is delicately crafted.
While Rose Under Fire is more of a companion to Code Name Verity than a sequel, but there are a few pieces of the story that I think are best appreciated if you've already read Code Name Verity.