Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein | Teen Ink

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

August 10, 2014
By KFT22 GOLD, Darien, Connecticut
KFT22 GOLD, Darien, Connecticut
16 articles 0 photos 31 comments

Elizabeth Wein, author of the bestseller Code Name Verity, has written another stunning World War II novel in her latest Rose Under Fire.

Wein's protagonist is the spunky and adventurous Rose Justice, an 18-year-old amateur poet and American Air Transport Auxiliary pilot with the job of ferrying Allied fighter planes for Britain in 1944. Her best friend is Maddie, whose story runs parallel in Code Name Verity.

For the most part, Rose has miraculously remained untouched by the war. Her family is safe and sound in an idyllic Pennsylvania town, far from the bombs and drafting. Her uncle has a high position in the military but has never been in harm's way. There is rumor that the Allies are winning and the war will be over in a year. All the horror stories are so far away at the Western front.

But this changes overnight when Rose is sent on a mission from Paris to England and is captured in enemy territory. Taken by the Nazis, she is forced into Ravensbrück, the infamous women's concentration camp located in northern Germany. Armed with only her thoughts and poorly-spoken French, Rose must fight harder than she ever has to survive.

But she is not alone. For crammed within the cold, unsanitary barracks are a group of truly extraordinary women. There is Karolina, a hopeless romantic who dreams of the glamour even when she is starving. With her is Lisette, the old French woman who has lost her own children and has to adopt and mother others to stay sane. Then there is Irina, an experienced military pilot who, despite having been tortured for months, never gives up a single one of Russia's secrets. And youngest of all is fifteen year old Roza, who is left with two crippled, non-functioning legs after being brutally experimented on by Nazi doctors.

Together, and with the help of some of Rose's poetry, these strong women somehow manage to find hope in the face of starvation, disease, beatings, fear, and death. Rose's journey is a long and terrifying one. Even beyond the fences of the concentration camp, there is her overhanging fear of telling her story to the world, of finding her place again, and of healing wounds that are impossible to forget. But somehow, Rose overcomes the impossible.

This is the first book I have read in which Wein has taken a shot at writing poetry. She should definitely write more. Not only is the book well-written and meaningful, the poems are delightful and it is always amazing to see Rose seek refuge within the verses she creates.

Unlike Code Name Verity, this companion novel does not start off at a snail's pace. In fact, the story takes on a perfect tempo that is not too overwhelmingly fast nor too slow. An action-filled and emotionally-manipulating plot adds to the book's success.

More so than the book itself is the research that was conducted to achieve such a noteworthy publication. This book is not your typical, cookie-cutter WWII novel. The historical accuracy is spot-on and the book sheds light on not only female pilots in the era, but also treatments within concentration camps. Although Rose Under Fire is not a memoir of a Holocaust survivor, the purpose of spreading the truth is quite clear--it tells an unforgettable story of love, sacrifice, courage, and friendship.

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