Friday, December 13, 2013

Review: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Under Fire 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 Review:

This book is so sad and awful, and so many horrible things happen to the characters in the story, but I loved the book itself because it so well-written, powerful, and emotional.  It made me feel the horrors of living in a concentration camp, though I cannot even truly begin to imagine what it must have been like.  The story was gripping because I loved all the characters, and I wanted to know that they would be all right.  And in the end, some characters make it out alive and some don't.  I feel like that made the more realistic than if all of the characters had survived.  I can say that this book is definitely one of the best books I have ever read, and probably the most emotional, too.  Now I've read this one, I really want to reread Code Name Verity because I feel like I missed some things in the book the first time I read it.


Much of this book is about family.  And by this, I don't mean biological family; I mean the people that become like family to you when circumstances push you together.  This book focuses on a particular "family" living in Block 32.  Block 32 is where all the Polish Rabbits are, along with other prisoners.  When Rose gets to that Block, she finds people there who will end up caring about her - Roza, Lisette, Irina, and Karolina.  Lisette is a woman who has lost both her husband and children, so she takes comfort into having children at the concentration camp to take under her wing.  Roza is a Polish Rabbit, and she has been operated on so many times that she cannot walk without using a crutch.  She is definitely one of my favorite characters in the book.  She has been through so much, yet she still manages to stay so strong.  And then there is Irina and Karolina.  Irina is a Soviet combat pilot, and Karolina is another one of the Rabbits.  She has many dreams for her future.  She just wants to be able to dance and go to the beach.  This family needed each other to survive the horrors of Ravensbruck.  They were always there for each other - to help hide their friends who were on the list to be killed, and even to sacrifice themselves for someone they loved.  The love in this book is written so well.  It is not romantic love.  It is friendship love, and I loved all of these characters too.

I was thinking about this book the day after I finished reading it, and I thought of how many parts of it remind me of a song called "We Are Soldiers" that we always warm up to in dance class.  Now, next time I hear that song in class, I am probably going to think of this book.  So many of the lyrics in that song resemble situations in the lives of these characters.  The song says, "In this life there's no surrender, There's nothing left for us to do, Find the strength to see this through."  This reminds me of the book because the characters at Ravensbruck do not surrender.  When they see their own name or a friend's name on the death list, they do not simply accept it and move on with their lives.  They fight back.  They find ways to hide people and outsmart the roll call.  The song also repeats the line, "We stand shoulder to shoulder" several times.  This makes me think of the girls in the book because they rely on each other to be strong.  Together they are all stronger, and that is how they manage to survive all the horrors that they experience.   

I liked the cameos from Code Name Verity characters, mainly Maddie.  It was good to see how Maddie was doing after what did happen at the end of the first novel.  This book does give a spoiler for a character death in Code Name Verity - if you read that book, you know who I'm talking about - but it doesn't really explain how that death happened.  If you plan on reading Code Name Verity, I suggest you read it first if you don't want to spoiled on that one plot point.  I've seen mixed reviews about which of the books people like better.  Personally, I preferred this book.  This book is now one of my all-time favorites, and I cannot stop thinking about the story and the characters.  

If you like YA historical fiction, read this book.  Even if historical fiction is not your favorite genre, you still read this book.  Basically, no matter what you like, just read this book.  I read hardly any YA historical fiction, and contemporary YA is my favorite genre, but this book is still one of my favorites ever.


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