Review Blog

Sep 09 2013

Rose under fire by Elizabeth Wein

cover image

Electric Monkey, 2013. ISBN 9781405265119.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. War. Strong female character. In this companion novel to the award winning Code Name Verity, the story revolves around Rose Justice who is a young American pilot, working for the British Air Transport Auxiliary. She has been flying with her father since she was very young and loves being a pilot who delivers planes and transports pilots for the RAF during the summer of 1944. She loves to write poetry and is enjoying a romance with a young pilot. Then once day her world changes when she is flying home from Europe. Crashing the airplane she is captured by the Germans and discovers what it is like to survive in Ravensbruck, a notorious women's concentration camp.
Wein cleverly takes the reader from the relatively safe but exciting world that Rose inhabits in Britain to the horror of a concentration camp, showing the courage that it takes to live in both worlds. Then in story telling that is very memorable, the author takes the reader one step further and shows the devastation that an experience like Ravensbruck can have on the spirit, even after Rose has been rescued.
This is a story of courage and resilience, of survival under terrible conditions and of both the depravity that people can sink to and the strength of the human spirit. Rose uses the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay and her own poetry to help others and herself survive Ravensbruck and poetry, journals and letters keep the narrative engrossing.
This would be a fabulous book to use when studying World War 2. The use of concentration camps, the heartlessness of the Nazis, what it was like to survive the aftermath of the war and the Nuremberg trials are all covered and given a female point of view which is unusual. It is a well written, heart breaking novel that will remain with me for a long time.
Pat Pledger

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