Rose Under Fire is the companion novel to Code Name Verity which I absolutely loved and hoped for more of the same with this story. Both stories feature women pilots who are attached to England’s Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). These women served during World War II in various capacities and they were as courageous in their endeavors as their male counterparts. The women underwent trials, tribulations, and horrific changes that there’s no coming back from. 28 different countries, including the US, sent women to serve with the ATA. Fifteen lost their lives.
Wein's main character in Rose Under Fire is Rose Moyer Justice. Rose is an 18 year old American pilot who has been flying since she was 12 years old. Rose hasn’t had to worry about her safety, or the fear of being rounded up and placed into concentration camps because of her religion or the fact that she was a political prisoner. She was able to grow up fairly uncomplicated until she makes the decision to volunteer for the ATA.
Rose Justice is an interesting character to break down. Before being captured and sent to Ravensbruck, Rose had only been in the European area of operation for 3 months but had already seen death and destruction including that of a fellow pilot. She flies alongside First Officer Maddie Brodatt who was one of the lead protagonists of Code Name Verity. I appreciated the fact that Maddie made an appearance in this novel especially since she’s still suffering from the loss of her best friend Julie.
Wein tells Rose’s story through the use of journals, poems, and real life accounts of what actually happened at the women’s concentration camp known as Ravensbruck and the Nuremburg trials that preceded the end of the war. Unlike Code Name Verity, we know pretty early in the story what is going to happen to Rose and end up relieving her memories of what happens through her writing.
Wein’s women are honorable and courageous and you can’t help but feel an emotional attachment to them as they struggle to survive. As with Code Name Verity, there is a definite feel of camaraderie and friendship among prisoners across various spectrums.
I will say this to readers; I encourage you to not go into this book with blinders on and think it’s just a story. Have an open mind. I’d like you to actually research the horrors that took place at Ravensbruck and other concentration camps run by Nazi Germany to give you a proper prospective of what Rose’s fictional character goes through and what Wein is trying to convey in her story.
I don’t want you to think that this these events did NOT actually happen since that would be a total sham and we would lose too much important history that these individuals left behind. I could find reasons to bombard you with facts that yes, millions of innocent people were brutally tortured, gassed, and experimented on by the SS of Nazi Germany. But, that is up to you to decide how much history and reality you can take.
Wein does an excellent job of researching facts and situations that happened at the prison. She adds just the right element of characters like Polish Political Prisoner (Rabbit) Roz’yczka Zajkowska, Soviet Pilot Irina Korsakova, and French Novelist Lisette Romilly into the story line, and brings Rose close up and personal with death and the brutal circumstances that prisoners of Ravensbruck faced on a daily basis. Even though Rose “only” serves 6 months in the prison, it is enough to have long lasting effects on her psyche and her writing.
I highly recommend Rose Under Fire along with Code Name Verity be read by everyone from grade school on up. I think that it is up to EVERY generation to ensure that history isn’t wasted or pushed aside or changed based on political pressure or the inevitable change in curriculum that schools continually waste money on in order to main political correctness. These events actually happened. Why change it for the sake of special interests?
Thank you to NetGalley and Disney Hyperion for a review copy of this book.
*Recvd via NetGalley 05/21/2013* Expected publication: September 10th 2013 by Disney-Hyperion
Author - Elizabeth Wein
Title - Rose Under Fire
Published by Disney-Hyperion
Releases September 10, 2013
Genre - Historical Fantasy