From Goodreads: 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.
This novel started off a little slow for me as Wein begins to create the background for her story, allowing readers to connect with Rose and her life prior to her capture. For me, this part really wasn’t interesting… information about piloting, friendships, and betrothals wasn’t what I was expecting and it’s not really my style, but in the end, it was actually vital information to further along the plot near the end, and I’m glad that Wein chose to include it, even though I initially wasn’t interested.
This is a gut wrenching read as we learn of the experiments carried out on the Rabbits (a group of women who created the nickname for themselves due to the experimentation) and their insistence on caring for one another, even to the point of volunteering to die in another Rabbits’ place. Much time is dedicated to the fleshing out of these strong-willed, powerful characters within the novel, and it is their determination that really pushes the story along and allows the reader to finish the novel. Without their outlook on life and their perseverance, I don’t think I would have been able to complete this novel because the atrocities within are quite difficult to handle, and yet these women bear it in stride.
I teach a Holocaust unit to my students, and we focus on the novel Night, by Elie Wiesel, so we don’t see the entire travesty of the war in what happened to the women and children as it focuses on a male concentration camp. Thus, I think Rose Under Fire, though extremely sad and difficult to stomach at times, is the perfect novel to show what life in the women’s camps were like. I feel like this is a topic that is not taught enough—all the novels I read in school as a student, and that I now teach, deal with the perspective of a male in a male concentration camp, and I think it is incredibly important that there is a focus on the women and children’s camps as well. This is a very powerful novel, and I highly suggest it, but beware, it is difficult to read at times. Four stars.
Disney Book Group has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release tomorrow, September 10, 2013.