Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Published by Disney Hyperion
Review copy provided by NetGalley
Rose Justice, an American citizen working as a pilot for the Air Transport Auxiliary during World War II, is traveling back from a secret flight in a semi-dangerous area when she is captured by the Germans. She is immediately taken to Ravensbruck, a Nazi concentration camp for women, and meets an incredible group of women, women who have survived insurmountable odds and continue to do so, as damaged as they are and as disastrously impossible their lives have become.
I had a very interesting reaction to Wein’s first novel, Code Name Verity … I totally didn’t get it, wasn’t into it, until almost at the end of the book where there is a “WOW” moment and everything completely changed for me. I ended up almost loving the book. So I was very excited to read her newest novel, Rose Under Fire, and I have to tell you … I completely loved this one. So much that I don’t think I can find the right words to explain what is so perfect about this book.
First of all, one of the main issues I had with Wein’s first novel is that I found myself very confused during a lot of the beginning, and that does not happen at all in this novel. In this book, Rose is telling her story of being in the concentration camp after she’s already out of it, so it doesn’t have that same sense of urgency and WTF-ery that the first book had. It’s completely clear what is going on and why, and the characters come to life in the regular way they do in novels – you get to know them and fall in love with them right alongside Rose.
Once again, Wein shows readers the power of true, solid, loving female friendships and how powerful women can be when we stick together. This was one of the biggest things I got out of Code Name Verity, and the female friendships in Rose Under Fire are possibly even stronger and more inspiring than those in the first book. These women would do absolutely anything to protect one another, including sacrificing their own lives if it means saving someone else, and to say that they broke my heart a million times with how inspiring they were is an understatement.
There’s so much I loved about this book. Rose is smart, resourceful, kind-hearted, and determined to stay alive and protect her friends. The friendships in the book show the power of strong women sticking together to beat the odds. The awful atrocities portrayed in the novel are difficult to stomach, but these are things that happened not all that long ago, and it’s important that we continue to read about and understand our history as a people…. to know what we are capable of if we don’t actively work against it.
I loved this book. If you were on the fence about Code Name Verity, I strongly encourage you to pick up Rose Under Fire. And if you liked or loved Wein’s first novel, I guarantee you will love this one too.