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Code Name Verity #2

Rose Under Fire

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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.

360 pages, Hardcover

First published June 1, 2013

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About the author

Elizabeth Wein

38 books3,007 followers
TIME magazine has put Code Name Verity on its list of "100 Best YA books of All Time."



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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,115 reviews
Profile Image for Maggie.
432 reviews429 followers
September 24, 2013
First, this isn't Code Name Verity.

To me, Rose Under Fire was a harder read than Verity. Verity was one of my favorite books last year. It was a heartbreaking and beautiful story about friendship and courage set during World War II that I compulsively read in a day. However, I never forgot that it was a work of historical fiction. With Rose, even though I knew it was also a work of Elizabeth Wein's ability and imagination, it felt so much like a memoir. It was so much harder to take knowing that all these atrocities were based on actual events. It's not a quick read nor is it an easy read. The experiences of the women at Ravensbruck were so horrible and beyond imagination, it's no wonder that people at the time didn't believe the stories coming out of Europe. It's also for that reason, though, that I think a book like Rose Under Fire is so important.

Rose Justice is an eager American pilot who learned flying at the knee of her father, the owner of a flight school in Pennsylvania. She goes to England to join the Air Transport Auxiliary and assist the Allied cause. Her uncle uses his connections to get her a flying assignment to France and it is on the return back to England where she disappears. No one has a clue where she or her plane is -- because she has been captured and taken to Germany. She ends up in Ravensbruck, a women's concentration camp, along with women from France, Poland, and Germany. She encounters a group of Polish women who have been nicknamed the Rabbits because they were subject to horrible experimental medical procedures. One of the Rabbits, Roza, was only 14 when she was captured by the Nazis.

What I love about Wein's writing is her ability to take historical events and facts and use them to buttress her story. It's not so much about Nazi medical experimentation as it is about Roza. And Izabela. And Aniela. And all the other women whose names Roza forces Rose to memorize in case something happens to them so that their stories, their names can be told.

This story is also about hope, when it's not that thing with feathers.
"Hope is the most treacherous thing in the world. It lifts you and lets you plummet."
It's about maintaining hope while surviving a reality that is harsher than most people can imagine. It's about surviving a place that was designed to systematically dehumanize and purge its prisoners. For Rose, her poems help keep her from becoming a schmootzich, someone whose desperation has turned her into a savage. Something else that helps Rose are her friendships with the other prisoners. It wouldn't be an Elizabeth Wein story without powerful relationships. The friendships in Rose though are different because they are born of circumstance -- horrible circumstance. It is unlikely that the prisoners would have even encountered each other in the outside world, and yet they now depend upon one another to make it through another day. Sometimes, though, the most powerful bonds are the ones forged in fire. It's what keeps you standing when hope plummets. It's a tiny strip of Cherry Soda nail polish that stubbornly clings to your toes even when your head has been shaved and your clothes stripped off.

I was a bit undone by this book. I honestly expected to finish it in a day or two, but I had to take breaks when the historical aspect overpowered the fictional. At the same time, I wanted to learn more about the very real women who inspired this story. This book is a testament to their endurance and bravery, and one that I think everyone should read.

This review appears on Young Adult Anonymous.
Profile Image for Moira.
512 reviews25 followers
September 20, 2013

Wow, I'm apparently the only one who loved Verity and really disliked this book. I found a lot of Rose Justice unbelievable, down to her name (the fake Bella Swan-style swearing, the Girl Scout round singing, the Goddamn Declaration of Independence) and the plotting felt contrived and unbelievable. Most of the scenes set in the camp were gripping, but that was because of the material itself, not the writing. There was sadly none of Verity's deep characterization or carefully crafted twisty plotting in this. It was almost like it was written by a different writer. Some major characters in Verity do show up as minor characters here, but we don't really learn anything new about them.

Also just let me say I HATED the "Julie wouldn't have made it through what you did, O perfect Rose" moment. I didn't think Maddie would have ever said any such thing, and it went along with how I constantly felt pushed to feel Rose was the Best of Them All, which just made me fed up with her after a while.
December 4, 2013
2.5 stars

Prepare the flame throwers now.

Confession: I am not really an Elizabeth Wein fan. I didn't like Code Name Verity but decided to give her another go with Rose Under Fire. I received a free copy via NetGalley, and it was most definitely not publication ready, which is ok, since that's the whole point after all. But being stripped of its gimmickiness (handwritten journal entries, pages of scrolled dead-girl names, and so on) didn't do the book any favors.

This book initially runs somewhat parallel to Verity. We meet Maddie again as she befriends Rose Justice, the protagonist of this novel. Rose is a (you guessed it) pilot, an 18-year-old transport pilot arrived fresh from the States to aid the Allies in their war effort against the Germans.

Most of the book is not about flying, however. It's about the Concentration Camps. Incredibly, Jews are largely absent from the story. Rose does something a little foolish in an effort to be brave and is caught by the Germans and shipped to a "Work Camp" at Ravensbrück. There she meets various other women prisoners, including the "Rabbits," mostly Polish girls from Lublin on whom medical experiments were performed.

Having grown up a couple hours' drive from Auschwitz in a Polish-Jewish family (Roma Gypsy on my grandfather's side - we seriously could not win as far as Hitler was concerned) and having a maternal grandfather who perished there meant the Camps weren't just a story; they were ever real and ever present. My grandmother changed her name from a very Jewish-sounding one just to survive the war. My mom never knew her father. The war stripped that, and much more, from her.

I realize that the Holocaust was not an atrocity committed solely against the Jews. Statistics vary, and there are clearly political agendas at stake that I don't want to get into. Suffice it to say, I find it odd and discomfiting that Wein would write a story about the Camps without mentioning the Jews (or mentioning them only in passing).

My main issues with this book, however, deal solely with its literary merit. It rambled and was unfocused. The format is similar to Verity, in that the story is told mostly through journal entries. I didn't find Rose to be a particularly complex character. She's a poet, and so we are unfortunately subjected to Wein writing poetry, which is used as a device to prod the plot along.

At the end of the novel, Rose is asked to testify at the Nuremberg trials, and even though she promised to bear witness to the crimes committed, she won't do it; she essentially runs and hides (the story ends with the possibility that she'll change her mind, but she has to be talked into it).

I never connected with Rose or the story, but felt manipulated to feel Big Emotions. Teenagers can read this book and feel important, because they're reading about War and Camps and Death, but really this is just a story about a plucky girl making good and surviving to tell the tale, which is apparently so much more interesting than burning in the pits and having no one remember your name.
Profile Image for B the BookAddict.
300 reviews667 followers
December 10, 2017
It has felt very perverse for me to be sitting in my garden these past two days reading Rose Under Fire. How could I be reading of such horror and cruelty on such a sunny day? I kept looking up from my book to draw breath, to drink in some beauty to ease my mind troubled by this story.

Elizabeth Wein has studied in depth the facts about Ravensbruck, the inhumane camp run by Nazi doctors in Germany, and has fashioned a story about a group of women who were detained and experimented on there. They called themselves Rabbits; taking the term from those unfortunate animals used frequently in medical research. For information purposes: - The experiments conducted on Polish political prisoners in Ravensbrück by Nazi doctors fall into two groups.

Group one aimed at testing the efficiency of sulphonamide drugs. This was done by deliberately wounding the selected victim and by introducing various virulent bacteria (staphylococci, gas bacilli) into the wound after which the patient was given one of the tested drugs. Whatever the scientific result of these experiments, the fact remains that they were invariably very painful and often resulted in the patient's death or permanent bodily injury.

Experiments in group two aimed at studying the processes of regeneration of bones, muscles and nerves, and also the possibilities of transplanting bones from one person to another. The operations consisted of breaking up. dissecting and grafting bones, muscles and nerves. They caused unbearable pains and resulted in lifelong infirmity due to the permanent injury inflicted to bones, nerves and muscles.

Wein weaves a story equally uplifting and horrific. She writes of unspeakable horror and unfailing loyalty and friendship; a daily battle to keep yourself alive. On the inside cover, she lists the names of seventy-four Polish women who were experimented on at Ravensbruck.

Will you acknowledge their lives and their deaths by reading this remarkable novel?

Highly Recommended 4.5★
Profile Image for R.J..
Author 14 books1,425 followers
December 4, 2013
Extraordinary. Shattering. Unforgettable.

I was afraid to read this book after CODE NAME VERITY -- not because I feared it wouldn't be as good or better on a technical level, but because I was afraid I wouldn't connect to it quite so strongly.

I needn't have worried.

Rose's story, told by a single narrator and in four sections, is different in scope and focus from the two-part shared narration we got in CNV. Her voice is uniquely her own -- American rather than English or Scottish, with its own rhythms and vocabulary. The story is self-contained (though there are glimpses of a couple of characters we met in CNV, which I loved), so it isn't necessary to have read the other book to understand this one. But the same qualities of humanity and courage and fierce loyalty between two (and more) young women in the face of the unthinkable are present in this book as in CNV -- without it ever feeling like a repeat of the same story.

A tremendous work of historical fiction, one that never forgets the human faces and hearts behind the details -- and is all the more powerful for it.
Profile Image for Tim.
202 reviews92 followers
March 25, 2017
I struggled with this one. The main character was like a chick lit heroine thrust into the horrors of a concentration camp.

Rose Justice is an American ATS pilot and a poet. In an almost surreal and highly implausible sequence of events her spitfire is intercepted by the Luftwaffe and escorted back to Germany where she ends up in Ravensbruck concentration camp, sharing a barracks with a group of mostly Polish and Russian women known as the rabbits because they have been used for horrific medical experiments. The Ravensbruck section is well researched and powerful but this is because we’re reading about horrific things that really happened rather than because of any skill displayed by the novelist. In fact, the research and the fictional elements of this novel were never unified for me. The story of the American pilot, who remained for me throughout the novel unbelievable, was like something glued onto the research. The novel is written in the style of chick lit too, very easy on the eye, lots of dialogue and that kind of very simple prose you find yourself skim reading which seemed inappropriate for a novel about the holocaust. The author says in an afterword that it’s a story which needs to be told and I agree with her, but probably in a non-fiction format and without the Hollywood implants.
Profile Image for Bill Kupersmith.
Author 1 book202 followers
August 27, 2018
Hunger Games has inspired a gigantic crowd of imitators recounting the adventures of brave teens confronting fictitious dystopias. Some, like the first in the Divergent series, are inspiring and admirable. Others, like Unwind, are illiterate and jejune. What puts Elizabeth Wein far above other YA authors is her portrayal of young women facing dangers much more horrible than anything imagined by dystopian authors, horrors that really occurred in familiar highly civilized countries within my own lifetime. Rose Under Fire is a sequel to Code Name Verity and together they mark their author as in the first rank of living authors of historical fiction. Her main characters are incredibly brave, ready to encounter any risks for their friends, and utterly tenacious in their principles. And whatever dangers they face or suffering they endure, they never take themselves too seriously or lose their sense of humor. You so wish you could have proved worthy to have been one of their friends too.

Code Name Verity chronicled the adventures in wartime France of two young British women, Maddie a Jewish aviatrix from the Midlands who serves in the Air Transport Auxiliary delivering aircraft and her close friend Julie (code named Verity) a Scottish aristocrat Special Operations Executive agent who is captured by the Nazis but manages to undertake a master plot to deceive the Germans. It is also one of the most beautiful and moving portrayals of friendship I have ever read. (See my review on Goodreads.) Rose Under Fire is the sequel. The principal character is Rose Justice, a young American pilot and friend of Maddie who also flies for the ATA. And she experiences a fate even more harrowing than did Julie. Not only does she fall into the hands of the Germans, but she is sent to the dreaded Ravensbrück concentration camp where the women are subjected to filth, cold, starvation, beatings and other punishments. After being severely punished for refusing to make fuses for V1 flying bombs, Rose is put to transporting wheelbarrows full of corpses. Even the sure prospect of Allied victory cannot deliver much hope; all know the Germans intend to kill the camp inmates before they can be liberated. And practically every day some of them are taken out and shot.

I had postponed reading this book for various reasons: partly to save a treat but also because I couldn’t hope for the same vicarious experience with a beautiful friendship I’d had with Julie and Maddie, especially in the setting of a concentration camp. But seeing how the women prisoners bonded together to care for each other and assure their mutual survival was awe inspiring. (Having read a number of Japanese POW camp novels and memoirs, I fear us guys are incapable of that kind of mutual support.) There is a great mix of backgrounds: including Lisette a French intellectual, Irina a Russian fighter pilot (who knows that even if the Russians arrive in time she’ll just be sent to the Gulag), and the young Polish resistance member Róża, one of the “Rabbits” whose legs had been mutilated by Nazi surgeons for their fake “medical” experiments. Róża and Rose (the nearly identical names are an obvious clue to how they share a common humanity) become the very closest of friends. Even more than with Maddie and Julie, Elizabeth Wein’s depiction of their friendship brought me close to tears. “Oh, God, dry words on a page. How can you grow to love a handful of strangers so fiercely just because you have to sleep on the same couple of wooden planks with them, when half the time you were there you wanted to strangle them, and all you ever talked about is death and imaginary strawberries?” Rose asks about their life amidst these horrors.

The young American Rose (she turns 19 while in the camp) is also a marvelous creation. While displaying great intrepidity, flying skill, and forbearance under suffering, she never loses her basic optimism and sense of humor. She is a recent ex-Girl Scout and often “entertains” her fellow prisoners with campfire songs and memories. I expect there are probably cynics even now who would find some of her values corny or phony, but I think most uncorrupted readers will admire her. She is also a poet and we are given numerous samples of her creations. I wondered whom she admired more: Amelia Earhart or Edna St Vincent Millay.

By the time we are twenty per cent into the book, readers know that in April 1945 Rose is writing her account in a Paris hotel, so obviously she not only survives but somehow managed to get away before the war’s end. For me knowing this somewhat dampened the suspense but that was an exigency of the narrative (tho’ I still wondered how she did it and was not disappointed when we find out). It is probably a flaw in my taste that I did not appreciate Rose’s poetry. Having grown up a literary snob when looking down on “Edna St Louis Missouri” was a sign of correct taste and then becoming a student of the neoclassic heroic couple made Rose’s enjambed rhymes jarring to my ear. But in the context of the book, especially Rose’s using them to recall the names of the Nazi’s victims, they are very effective.

Which is better, Code Name Verity or Rose Under Fire? I found the former closer and more personal, more like a romance, and the latter like an epic, though they are the same length. Both require taking some liberties with history (which the author is forthcoming about in her afterwords) for the sake of plot, but they are substantially true to history, and more importantly, true to the extraordinary strength of character some young women displayed in the face of appalling dangers. Better stories for contemporary readers, YA or OA, are not to be found.
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,308 reviews2,192 followers
October 14, 2014
Sequel's always make me a little nervous. If I loved the first book , I'm afraid of being disappointed , afraid that the characters just won't be the ones I came to care about in the first book , afraid that I won't be as taken with the follow up story and it just won't get to me in the same ways . There was absolutely no need for me to be apprehensive with this book. As did Code Name Verity, this book got to me in ways that I find difficult to describe.

Rose Justice is a mere teenager from a well to do family in Pennsylvania and is shuttling officers and other soldiers around England and then to France as a ferry pilot in the Air Transport Auxiliary for the Royal Air Force. It seemed to me at first that Rose doesn’t really grasp what is happening around her, but then suddenly she’s a prisoner of war and is sent to the infamous concentration camp at Ravensbruck and the starkest of realities, what happened at that camp is now part of Rose’s life.

What happens then is that isn’t really just Rose’s story anymore. It’s the story of the Polish women who were made to suffer outrageous medical experimentation; it is the story of the hunger, the beatings, the torture, the filth and again the almost unspeakable medical experimentation that happened there to 150,000 women. This is not an easy read but it is what Wein has set out to do “TELL THE WORLD” what really happened there.

In her afterword, acknowledgements and sources, Wein makes it clear that the things she writes about really happened. “I didn’t make up anything about Ravensbruck”. “My book is fiction, but it is based on the real memories of other people. “ What I hope wasn’t imagined was the friendship, the caring for each other and the lifting each other up both physically and emotionally and that at least this was there for these women that I will not be able to forget about.
589 reviews1,029 followers
December 22, 2013
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

4.5 stars

Thank you Hardie Grant Egmont Australia for sending me this copy. No compensation was given or taken to alter this review.

Hope is treacherous, but how can you live without it?

I don't normally review books the same day I read them. Especially not one hour after I've read them. But Rose Under Fire is a certain exception because I fear that if I wait any longer, I won't be able connect words to form coherent and meaningful sentences. Rose Under Fire is an imperative read, certainly emotionally draining and brutal and is practically scintillating in its own brilliance.

Rose Justice is a young American ATA pilot during the World War II with big ambitions. Her love for flying becomes her greatest fall when she crosses over enemy territory. Wrong place, wrong time. Soon, Rose is taken to Ravensbrück concentration camp where her world crumbles and collapses in front of her. Rose Under Fire is split into three sections, all equally vivid and touching but section two shattered me. Bloody heartbreaking. Elizabeth Wein does no sugar coating, some of the things that happen in here are absolutely horrid, and to think that these things actually happened in our world's history. Just. Ugh. Shivers ran up and down my spine the whole time. My hands, numb. Pure disgust.

Like Code Name Verity, the book is told in first person, journal narration. While the ending wasn't as incalculable like Code Name Verity, the journey itself was exhilarating. I really love Rose Justice, I really really do. She's got an ambitious and brave character, not just wanting to sit there and do everything she's told. She made me laugh in appalling situations, always brightening the bleak atmosphere of the concentration camp. Not only does Rose love flying but we also learn she has a love for reciting poems, and making them. Her personality in general was contagious, her poems and little songs affecting those around her.

Rose Under Fire shows effectively, though not like a lecture what World War II was like. Elizabeth Wein once again nails the atmosphere and blighted-ness of the main character's standing point, her writing deserves all, if more acknowledgements. I'd also like to point how fantastic the friendships were portrayed in Rose Under Fire. I love them all. Maddie, Elodie, Karolina, Irina, Roza, Lisette and Anna etc. It shows how easy people can grow relationships during this time and help each other. Trust and hope. It's more powerful than anything.

While Rose Under Fire does not really follow Code Name Verity, and can be read as a stand-alone I still highly recommend you read Code Name Verity first. These are pretty slow reads in my opinion, because you need to savour every little bit of its beauty and brute. All of it.

Survival means more than just staying alive.

Tell the world.
Profile Image for Suzy.
791 reviews260 followers
April 4, 2018
4 1/2 stars

I’ve wanted to read this follow-up to Code Name Verity for quite a while. In Rose Under Fire, we pick up about eight months on from the ending of Verity, meeting Rose Moyer Justice in early August 1944. She’s a young American pilot right out of high school who has come to work with the Air Transport Auxiliary in England to ferry aircraft during WWII. She has become good friends with Maddie, another ATA pilot and best friend of Verity, whom we met in the previous book.

At first, I thought this story was going to be inferior to that told in Verity. It was not long, however, until I got swept up in this harrowing story of the will and determination to survive against all odds, even in dire circumstances. And I do mean Dire Circumstances. Much of the book takes place in Ravensbruck, the Nazi women’s prison in Northern Germany, where Wein focuses on the “rabbits”, those women who have been subjected to medical experiments and who are kept together in nothing short of a warehouse. Even though they are badly injured, some of whom are still sick from wounds that have not healed, they are conscripted for work of the most heinous nature. My heart was in my throat for much of this story, as I was ferried along watching them care for each other and seeing them try to figure out just how to get through each day.

Many of these women die, but many also live beyond the end of the war. We learn of their role in the Nuremberg and Hamburg trials and the sheer triumph of their survival and lives after the war. We learn of the role Rose played in their lives during and after the war. I won’t say more, fearing I would take away your own discovery of this heartfelt (and thoroughly researched) story. One thing I will tell without giving anything away is how Rose is a poet, regularly reciting the poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay as well as writing her own poetry. This added a wonderful dimension to a daunting story.

As with Code Name Verity, I listened to this one. I had my doubts that this was up to par with CNV but was completely won over. The narrator was excellent at voicing many characters with many different accents, and I loved how when Rose sang a song she sang it and how effective she was reading the poetry. I also appreciated the afterword in which Wein tells of the spark for the story and her extensive research to make this as authentic as possible. Recommended!
Profile Image for Mitch.
355 reviews610 followers
August 11, 2013
Update - 8/11
Having finished Code Name Verity, I'm struck by how much more conventional Rose Under Fire is compared to its predecessor. Although both books follow the same epistolary style, and Rose's voice even resembles Julie's, Elizabeth Wein's earlier book I think wins on creativity with her choice to use Julie's confession as a starting point and then revealing the whole thing as the sham product of an unreliable narrator later on. For readers who were impressed with the rawness of that book, I think Rose Under Fire might even end up a slight disappointment, Verity had a fairly unique premise to work with whereas this book covers a lot of familiar ground and struggles a bit to differentiate itself as a result.

That said, I also happen to be in the minority who found Wein's approach in Verity difficult to connect with - while I have no problems calling that book indisputably creative, the first half also struggled to offer a clear vision of what the book was going to be about, there just wasn't any sense of immediacy or a definite purpose, and it wasn't until the second part that Julie's confessions are giving the weight necessary for me to actually invest in her story. Rose Under Fire on the other hand doesn't have that problem and is an easier book to follow all the way through, so I personally found this one a better reading experience even if I feel Code Name Verity is the book more worthy of merit.

Original Review
Ok, confession: I’ve never read Code Name Verity. (Various friends: Why haven’t you now, Mitch?) Yeah yeah, I know, I’ve been meaning to, believe me, I’ve heard lots of good things about Elizabeth Wein’s first foray into young adult historical fiction since last year and I’m usually a huge sucker for fan of anything historical, but somehow I just never found the right time for it. After reading Rose Under Fire though (which totally works even as a standalone), I can definitely see why Wein has so many readers under her spell - she can truly write a great World War II book. 

Having never read the first book, I guess I just wasn’t prepared for how brilliantly Wein handles so many different aspects of World War II, but particularly with the character of Rose Justice. As an American, it’s always easy to forget what war feels like when the conflicts are thousands of miles away, but I don’t think Wein could have created a better character than Rose to remind me - not only because the entire book is written as journal entries from Rose’s point of view, but really because of how she grows as a character throughout the entire story. Even from the first few entries, I thought Wein through Rose does an excellent job of just subtly showing just how different Pennsylvania (where Rose is from) and London (where she’s assigned) during the War are, the kind of everyday things she experiences in England is just something that hasn’t happened on American soil, but Wein makes the bombings, the hardship, the War from the British perspective, all of it raw, real, and relatable. Sure, the real story doesn’t actually start until Rose flies into France and gets captured by the Nazis, but the way Wein grows Rose from the innocent American who starts out really without any understanding of the effects of the War, someone who sees flying planes as more of an adventure, to the character she eventually becomes is great character journey in and of itself.

The other half of the book, why Rose grows as a character, is a tragedy that’s been covered many times in many books (as it should be), but even so I do think Wein does enough to make Rose Under Fire more than just an American prisoner of war in a Nazi concentration camp story. Wein’s done some real research, and I really liked how she humanizes everything about Rose’s experience as a POW, not only by incorporating the story of the Rabbits, Polish prisoners brutally experimented on by the Nazi’s, but by actually making every one of the girls feel like real people, with real friendships, rivalries, strengths, and emotions. What really surprised me, though, is that Wein takes the same approach with the German characters; sure, the guards, as expected, are cruel, but there’s still room for a lot of shades of gray so that while Rose’s story is about suffering, it’s really about how different people, both guards and prisoners, respond to, endure, and survive that suffering, and her story works because in the end she gets across the real tragedy of the concentration camps in the simplest and most hard hitting way, every moment with her fellow prisoners, every personal memory, it’s a reminder that every person in those camps, they’re people, what each of them chooses to do matters, and that’s something that should never be forgotten. 

If I do have a problem, it’s that I feel slightly emotionally manipulated. Don’t get me wrong, I admired, respected, and definitely empathized with Rose and her friends, they’re absolutely some very powerful characters, but I just can’t shake the feeling that there’s something a bit calculated about the story, that the characters are a little too perfect at eliciting just the right emotions at the right times, that the events are a little too perfect in the way Rose and her friends survive and grow despite the horrors they’ve experienced, with their few setbacks sort of brushed aside. I can’t say the camp doesn’t take its toll on Rose’s friends () and I can’t say the message of survival and sticking together in the face of overwhelming odds isn’t powerful, but well, besides a few close calls, I think Rose Under Fire could’ve been a little messier than how direct the story ends up feeling.

Still, my one complaint doesn’t mean Rose Under Fire is by any means anything less than a book that pulls out all the stops at capturing so many horrible, yes, but important aspects of World War II we should never forget. After this, I’m definitely looking forward to Code Name Verity.
Profile Image for ambyr.
907 reviews79 followers
July 13, 2013
This review is not going to have very much to do with the book.

Like (I suspect) most descendants of Holocaust survivors, I went through a phase at the end of my elementary school days when I read all the Holocaust books, trying desperately to make sense of what had so scarred my relatives but was only alluded to in my presence in half-heard scraps of conversation that quickly switched over to Yiddish whenever someone noticed I was within hearing range. Number the Stars, The Devil's Arithmetic, Maus, Night--if I could find it, I read it.

And then I got older, and the stories stopped being whispered and started being told, and I stopped needing literature about the Holocaust. I had all the details I ever wanted in front of me. (The only one I did go back to, time and again, was Maus--because it told me not just the story of the Holocaust but the story of how people dealt with the trauma decades after the fact, and that I still needed.)

In particular, I got pretty cynical about the industry of Holocaust fiction. The stories were so pretty. They had morals. They wrapped up in a neat little bow. They sounded nothing--nothing--like the tales I heard. Oh, they had their share of horror, but too often it felt like a cheap attempt at emotional manipulation. See how he suffers tragically! See how she perseveres!

...yeah, okay. I'm still pretty cynical about Holocaust fiction. I still don't read it. Which is why I really wish I'd spoiled myself for this book, because I think if I'd known it was going to be a concentration camp story I either would have skipped it entirely or (at least) gone in better prepared.

Don't get me wrong. It is a perfectly decent addition to the genre of teen Holocaust fiction. Wein's writing is (as always) lovely, while still being plausible for the scattered diary of a young woman. Rose is a relateable protagonist--a little naive but well-intentioned, a good All-American girl.

Note: not a good Jewish girl. This is a concentration camp novel in which Jews are almost entirely absent. I have very mixed feelings about that. On the one hand it's probably what made it possible for me to get through the book, given my own particular issues; it let me read it with more of an outsider's lens. On the other hand . . . while it's certainly true that many, many non-Jews suffered and died in the Holocaust, attempts to frame events as "the Holocaust wasn't just about Jews!" have, let us say, some less than savory political associations. In a work of constructed fiction (as opposed to, say, a memoir) I don't think leaving Jews out of the Holocaust is a choice you should lightly make.

And maybe Wein didn't make it lightly. I don't know. I would be interested in hearing her reasons. And I'm also interested in seeing what she writes next, because if this is going to be an ongoing series, I feel like the obvious next book is Anna Engel's book. And that is a story I'm both cautiously curious about and deeply reluctant to read.
Profile Image for AH.
2,005 reviews373 followers
September 4, 2013
Update 9/4/13:We loved this book so much we are doing giveaway for 2 print copies (US only)on Badass Book Reviews.

Initial Thoughts: This is a book that will haunt me for a while. Rose Under Fire made me an emotional mess. It's so hard to believe that the atrocities of WWII were only about 70 years ago - and it is very hard to fathom man's inhumanity to man. Prepare yourself a box of Kleenex or two before you read this one. Make sure that you've read Code Name Verity first in order to avoid a spoiler in this book. 5.0 golden stars.

The Review: Remember what you were doing when you were 14 years old? Were you smuggling explosives to the Resistance? Were you playing with unexploded bombs? Luckily, most of us (I wish I could say all of us) had a cushy adolescence, nothing like some of the horrors endured by people during WWII.

Rose Under Fire is the companion book/sequel to Code Name Verity. I’d recommend reading Code Name Verity first, take a break of a few months to compose yourself, then read Rose Under Fire. Why do I call it a companion book? It does continue the plot line of Code Name Verity, but a new female pilot is introduced and the rest of the story focuses on her experiences during the war.

Rose Under Fire is the story of a young American pilot. Rose Justice joins Britain’s ATA to ferry planes between airfields. The book is divided into three parts and is told from Rose’s point of view. In the first part, we learn about Rose and her aspirations. Rose is a pilot and a writer. She loves poetry and quotes her favorite poet throughout the novel. She comes from a Pennsylvania Dutch family and her father taught her to fly at a young age. Rose is being pursued romantically by Nick and he proposes marriage to her, but she doesn’t want to jump into marriage during the war. Rose leads a charmed life: she has wealthy relatives in England, a job she loves, and her best friend is Maddie. Part one is wonderful and idyllic, despite the war and the random bombs dropping on London.

Abruptly everything changes. While on a mission, Rose disappears. Warning: Part two is horrific and not for the faint of heart. Prepare mass quantities of tissues and try not to leave your house with puffy eyes. Through her writing and poetry Rose narrates the experience of her capture and subsequent stay at the Ravensbruck concentration camp. This is not a light read. The events in this section are difficult to imagine, let alone read. Rose’s voice brings life to the condemned women in the camps and how despite the tremendously degrading circumstances, the women were able to align themselves into little “families” and look after each other, propping up the sick, hiding those marked for execution, sharing meager rations, etc. It is really hard to come up with words to describe just how brave these women were, even aspiring to small acts of passive defiance. They endured starvation, the cold, cruel and unusual punishment, illness, and horrible camp jobs.

The third part of Rose Under Fire touches upon the Nuremburg Trials. Rose, along with 2 companions, manages to escape her captors in a most fitting and opportunistic escape. It is about a year and a half later and Rose is an accomplished poet and is attending medical school. She has difficulty talking about her experiences, preferring to write, yet even writing some of the horrors eludes her.

Rose Under Fire gets 5 shiny stars from me. It is a book that will haunt you long after you finish reading it. It is a testament to the memories of those that perished in the camps during World War II. Even though Rose’s story is a work of fiction and the author did take a few liberties with the information, a lot of the information in the book can be found in historical records. From the first chapter, I found myself looking up the V1 bomber, the different kinds of aircraft, and finally the Ravensbruck concentration camp. The author provides a large list of bibliographic resources at the end of the book for further research, should you be interested.

I would recommend Rose Under Fire for mature young adult readers and up who are interested in the roles women played during World War II.

Thank you to NetGalley and Disney Hyperion for a review copy of this book.

Review posted on Badass Book Reviews.

By the way, I was at my local Chapters bookstore last night and the book was already available, nicely stacked in a pile in the young adult section.
Profile Image for L.
150 reviews4 followers
August 7, 2013
I'm going to have a hard time writing this review and the ultimate caveat is that I (F)LOVED Code Name Verity. CNV was 5* book without a shadow of a doubt. I will rave about and recommend that book to anyone. It is therefore with sinking heart that I have to say that in my opinion Rose Under Fire never really took off for me.

Friendship was such a central theme to CNV and the friendships formed by Rose in this book just couldn't capture the togetherness as found between Maddie and Queenie. How I longed for Rose to develop such a relationship with another prisoner or before her capture.

I wasn't entirely sure that Rose Under Fire deserved to ride on the coattails of CNV with the inclusion of Maddie and others (shan't reveal who) in the story. I also wasn't sure that it was necessary.

I wanted so much more from this book, and perhaps by telling the tale that it does, of a political prisoner in a concentration camp during WW2, made it harder for the fictional narrative to flow. I found the different parts of the book lacked a cohesiveness and perhaps that is the overall central reason why the book did not succeed for me, that the author couldn't find a way to tell the story.

I won't deny that there were some touching moments, but after "I told the truth, I told the truth, I told the truth" "kiss me Hardy, kiss me quick" "fly the plane Maddie" it just missed the mark time and time again.

I don't have any other experience, or not any i can immediately recall, of reading fiction based on real life experiences in the concentration camps, but I would hazard a guess that there are better, more emotive stories out there. As a history graduate I have studied the holocaust, although not in any great depth, so I am aware of the horrendous atrocities occasioned against so many minority people during the war.

I would not, and shall not, hesitate to read another Elizabeth Wein novel as clearly she is capable of the most eloquent, thought provoking, emotive writing. But if you are looking for a work by her to rival Code Name Verity, then unfortunately this is not it. If you haven't yet had the pleasure of reading CNV then I urge you to immediately head to your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy now. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT.

Keep writing Ms Wein because you are so clearly incredibly talented and I look forward to reading your next work.
Profile Image for Bonnie.
1,376 reviews928 followers
November 15, 2015
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A copy of Rose Under Fire was provided to me by Disney Hyperion for review purposes.

'Hope is the most treacherous thing in the world. It lifts you and lets you plummet. But as long as you're being lifted, you don't worry about plummeting.'

Rose Under Fire tells the story of Rose Justice, an American pilot who is captured and sent to the concentration camp Ravensbrück which held primarily women and children. The beginning of the story is a short, day to day accounting in epistolary (journal) form of her duties as a pilot. After, she transcribes everything she remembers from her experiences in Ravensbrück and how she managed to be one of the few who lived to tell the tale.

The horrors that Rose and the thousands of other women suffered through at Ravensbrück will break your heart. There isn't a lack of detailing either, the story is vividly retold making it disturbingly palpable. It also doesn't help to know that while the story is fictional, Elizabeth Wein's story is based on fact and is a slight retelling of actual survivors from Ravensbrück.

Over a six year period between 1939 and 1945 over 130,000 women and children resided at the camp; some were transported to other camps, some survived till the end of the war and most died within those walls. Out of that inconceivable number only a reported 15,000-32,000 managed to survive. The most horrid aspect of what went on at this camp are the details of the medical experimentation that was done on a reported 86 women that were known from then on as 'Rabbits'. I will avoid detailing this as you'll receive enough within the book itself, but the fact that even a single one of those women were able to survive is astounding.

Rose Under Fire is a companion novel to Code Name Verity. It's not necessary to have read CNV prior, but I would definitely recommend it. Code Name Verity came close to being a DNF for me only because it was overly focused on the mechanical aspects of piloting but Julie was an amazing character. Rose Under Fire is a much more prevalent and typical tale of a WWII survivor; an incredible character possessing a perseverance that was truly admirable.
Profile Image for Jasprit.
527 reviews767 followers
August 16, 2013
Rose under Fire is another powerful and compelling story by Elizabeth Wein. I was completely overwhelmed by her debut novel Code Name Verity and so was expecting no less from her here.

Just like with Code Name Verity I found it extremely difficult to get into this story. But with Code Name Verity, once I got past the initial struggle I was hooked, however with Rose under Fire this was not the case. I hugely liked Rose’s character and her strength and her resilience that she displayed but I never felt myself invested in her story like I was with Maddie and Verity. These two brought out so many different emotions within me. Whereas I’m sad to say that despite bringing such a brilliant diverse range of characters, not one really shone through for me.

However I did appreciate the comradeship that came through this book that despite coming from different places and pushed to the limits in many ways, these girls were a solid team with them doing everything to help each other out. Rose under Fire is a beautiful read you just have to read all the praising reviews to see this is the case. Being the mood reader I have lately become, I can only explain this being the reason for not enjoying this one more.

This review can be found on The Readers Den
Profile Image for TheBookSmugglers.
669 reviews2,004 followers
September 6, 2013
Original review posted on The Book Smugglers

Ana’s Take:


Rose Under Fire is a companion novel to the absolutely fabulous, heart-breaking, the-best-book-of-2012 Code Name Verity. I will come back to this later.

The plot summary of Rose Under Fire is rather straightforward: a young and naïve American girl named Rose Justice joins the allied forces in England flying planes for the War Effort. While on a short mission to Paris, she is captured by Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, a women’s concentration camp. There, she forms strong, deep connections to a group of young political Polish prisoners known as the Rabbits. The Rabbits were the victims of horrifying medical experiments and were protected by the rest of the Camp because of their attempt to bear witness to these atrocities by telling the world.

I don’t know how to write this review. It’s hard to concentrate on what happens in the book not only because it is a difficult topic (I’ve had nightmares two nights in a row now after reading it) but also because I think that I’d rather talk about the themes that arise from it. There are so many.

Just like Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire is an epistolary novel. Rose keeps a notebook before going to Ravensbrück where she writes about her experiences as a pilot until she is taken. The narrative resumes after Ravensbrück when Rose decides to write down her experiences – at least what she can remember of the six months she spent there. The final two “books” are written about one year later at the time the war trials begin.

It’s interesting: throughout the book there are four different Roses. But it’s always, always the same person. Because her voice is the same but the level of maturity is not – there is a question of superb writing skills here. Rose’s naivety and eagerness to start with are so painful because you just know they will not survive the war.

And I loved this because in these stories the Young and Naïve and Eager soldier is almost invariably a man. This is a book that is about a very specific group of women and how they experienced the war and those are varied even within the limited scope of this novel which concentrates in the Polish/French group of prisoners, especially on the small group formed by the Rabbits. I say “varied” because this is truly I think the core of the novel.

Because even within a similar group there are different experiences of this War and above all, different ways of coping. There are those that don’t, there are those who defy, there are those who cave, there are those who betray, there are those who subvert, those who fight, those who cry, those who laugh, those who do nothing at all, those who do all of this and more.

Actually, one of the things I think the most when reading stories like this is the topic of “defiance”. Ravensbrück was a camp that held political prisoners and some of them were resistance fighters. And as much as I admire resistance fighters, I am always more interested in the small, quiet, daily defiance which is so important too. The defiance that is quiet, incisive, patient, that whispers, that shares a piece of bread, that subverts orders the best way possible.

But there are those who, just like with coping, don’t fight at all. And who can begrudge or judge? No one and especially not this book. There is absolutely no sense of value or judgement in the different ways that each person deals with these atrocities, no right or wrong way. This is all the more important when it comes to the final part of the novel when it comes to the time of bearing witness at the trials. There are those who want to and can talk about their experiences. There are those who simply can’t: who can’t talk about it, who can’t bear to think of standing in front of people and talk about the unspeakable things that happened to them.

There is a huge focus on this because Rose Under Fire is a survivor story. This is important because there were so many that didn’t survive – there are so many that went into the fold nameless and voiceless. To the survivors then there is an extra layer of guilt, of why me and I don’t even dare to imagine what it must feel like. And all of that without being exploitative or simplifying everything by the false dichotomy of good vs evil although the Rose pre-Ravensbrück does think it is as simple as that which makes her friendship with a German guard all the more impacting.

And it is also “varied” because even though Rose is the main character and narrator, I don’t think she is the heroine. Her personal story is important but Ravensbrück’s is more, the Rabbit’s is more. Rose is almost unimportant. Because she is witness.

I think this is where novel completely diverges from Code Name Verity. Because that first book felt like a deeply personal story of two friends whereas this one is more about the whole. So, going back to Code Name Verity: if you have read it, you are probably thinking: is Rose Under Fire as good? I know because I wondered the same thing.

I have been deeply affected by both books in different ways. Because they are different books even if they have the same setting, and the same themes of loyalty and friendship between ladies. But Code Name Verity as heart-wrenching as it was, also had room for fun gotchas and twists because that was a spy book. The narrative here is drier and more straightforward – as it should be. They are both good books.

And then in the middle of it all, the details.

The fact that before the war ended and the Concentration Camps were liberated, the majority of the world thought that the news of what was really happening in those camps that were slowly slipping to the world sounded like anti-Nazi propaganda because who WHO could believe such things?

The shared horror of a forced haircut or ripped nylon tights as a naïve prelude to worse to come; saying grace before eating meagre meals; hysterical laughter; faux school exams; propping up the dead and hiding under planks; Vive La France!; flying around the Eiffel Tower; picnics and stitched gifts; red toenails and whispered poems.
Maddie (Maddie!) and any mentions of Julie that brought it all back.

And all the heartache in the world.

The simplest way to finish this review is to go back and to say: MY EMOTIONS.

Thea’s Take:

Let me preface this review by getting the big points out of the way: I loved this book. I loved it deeply. For its characters, its message, its grim and terrible beauty, I loved it.

And, I’ll preface this review by saying that it is a very different book than Code Name Verity – epistolary style aside – but for those differences, it’s actually a more powerful, and more important, book.

I have to echo two sentiments that Ana puts forward: first, I think Ana hits on a very important part of the success of this Rose Under Fire – there is no (or ok, there’s some, but it’s not much) passing of judgement. I recently read a nonfictional account of the capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann in The Nazi Hunters, which emphatically, repeatedly uses the labels of GOOD and EVIL; of absolute moral right, and absolute moral depravity. I appreciate the layers in Rose Under Fire; there are terrible, unspeakable things that happen and are inflicted by terrible people, but how there are others that are neither good, nor evil, but somewhere in between (prison guard Anna, for example).

Second, as Ana has pointed out in her part of the review, the theme of defiance and its many faces throughout the book is truly remarkable. I loved the heartbreaking depiction of the different levels of resistance and strength, from taking too long to do different tasks, to chasing after and nudging pilotless planes to their demise, to turning out the lights in a concentration camp and throwing handfuls of dirt while screaming to cause chaos. My goodness, how brave and strong and amazing these people all are and were.

These things said, I think what I appreciated the most about this book are the underlying themes of truth, and truth in storytelling. The truth will be heard. This is the single sentiment that we see Rose and her fellow prisoners in Ravensbrück fight for and rally behind, over and over again. Because the truth is what matters; the reality of the “rabbits” of Ravensbrück and the medical experiments they endured, the cold and starvation and hard labor they faced before being murdered. The truth.

It is perhaps unfair to compare this book to Code Name Verity, which is, as Ana says, an internal novel about two best friends, spies, and brilliant, unexpected lies. Rose Under Fire is a very different creature, without the huge walloping twists of the former novel, and more of a straightforward retrospective record of Rose’s life before and after Ravensbrück. It’s an important story, and one that is written with Elizabeth Wein’s beautifully skilled hand – I have to agree with Ana, the iterations of Rose before she tips that doodlebug and is captured by the Nazis is an entirely different Rose that is imprisoned and beaten in Ravensbrück. And that Rose is a different one than the terrified survivor, who fears her newfound space and freedom (to the point where any loud noises, like a telephone ringing, terrify her). The Rose that ends the book – the one that is reunited with her fellow friends and survivors, who goes to medical school following the war and after she has survived surviving – this is the strongest, most powerful Rose of them all. And I deeply appreciated and loved this character, so very much – moreso, I think, than the heroines of Code Name Verity.

Praises all said, the one key area where I felt that Rose Under Fire faltered, however, is in its epistolary narrative. (This perhaps is my own stylistic preference and nitpick, more than anything else.) Rose narrates the story through her journal before Ravensbrück as a daily diary, but after she escapes and survives the concentration camp, the narrative switches to a long, very detailed account of daily life and her encounters over that missing year. To me, this feels more than a little contrived (to be fair, I had the same issue with Code Name Verity and the plausibility gap of a hardened Gestapo officer allowing a young captured spy to write so much in a journal day after day of being imprisoned and divulging nothing of importance). I also was not a huge fan of Rose’s poetry, although I appreciate the importance of lyricism and poetry to the character. Personally, it wasn’t to my taste, but this is completely a matter of personal taste and not a failing of the writing at all.

The only other thing I will say about this book actually has very little to do with the book – and perhaps this is more of a personal reflection, or fodder for a ponderings post, than it is a fair commentary on the actual story itself. (This is code for me saying, please feel free to tune out now!) Still, I feel very strongly that something must be said: Rose Under Fire is one hell of a book. It’s a powerful, emotionally resonant historical novel about remembering and about surviving, and I truly appreciate and value that. That said, it’s also a story about a war that ended nearly 70 years ago. It’s also the story narrated by a beautiful, young, privileged, white girl who literally falls into a terrible situation. Please understand that I am not disparaging or arguing against the value of the rich canon of literature about the Holocaust, or the set of circumstances facing heroine Rose. I am simply saying this: there are so many wars, atrocities, even genocides that have happened in the last 70 years, and that are still happening now. Those truths and those stories are hardly represented today – much less in YA literature. And perhaps this doesn’t belong here in this review, but it’s something I am acutely conscious of, and I vow to do as much as I can to change this and draw awareness to the titles that do exist in these more contemporary, non-WWII centric eras. Because I am inspired by Rose’s story and by this book, because I think it’s important to talk, to remember, and to experience that truth through storytelling, I vow to read and review books from other, more contemporary wars, from viewpoints other than that of the white, the privileged, and the western European. (I think I’ll start with Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick, or A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah – if anyone has any other suggestions, please, please let me know.) And that is all.
Profile Image for Gillian.
458 reviews1,089 followers
September 3, 2013

Originally posted at Writer of Wrongs

I honestly have no idea how to write this review. I can't think of any clever, funny, giffy ways to say that this book is the most powerful and moving book I've read since Code Name Verity. I can't think of other ways to explain that the prose is something magical, but never purple or flowery. I can give this book all the stars and all the exclamation points and flaily gifs I want, but there's no way I'd be able to portray just how incredible of a novel Rose Under Fire is.

Rose Under Fire was the very first ARC I grabbed at BEA. The word was they were dropping it the second the doors opened the first day, at nine am, that there'd be stacks of them at the Disney Hyperion booth and it'd be first come, first serve. The second those doors opened, I BOOKED IT. I power-walked like a FIEND to get this. And oh, did it pay off.

For the curious, you will be able to read this book without having read Code Name Verity (but you shouldn't, because Code Name Verity is amazing). We first meet Rose Justice, plucky, feisty American teenager and transport pilot in England in 1944. Rose is a brave, adventuresome girl who loves to fly and writes gorgeous poetry in her journal. Rose's voice is fabulous, and so different from Verity's was. I suppose the only critique I'd have is that the beginning is a bit slow, and like CNV, it's full of technical plane stuff and wartime details, which I personally love. I like learning just what life was like for the ATA girls and the men of the RAF and the people of Britain during the Blitz. I could eat up those details all day long. Wein is a master of research and giving so much just by dropping one small fact.

But this early section, before Rose is captured and sent to Ravensbruck, is necessary. It shows Rose as she was before and reunites us with Maddie (SOBBBBBBS). You learn that Rose is both the kind of girl who takes risky chances and one who doesn't quite yet understand the severity of the war around her. Oh, she understands that people are dying (the book opens with the death of a fellow ATA girl), and she understands butter shortages and living far away from home. But she doesn't yet grasp the full scale of the atrocities happening in Europe, but as we know, she's about to.

It was awful reading that first section, knowing what's about ot happen to our bright and shiny Rose, reading her poetry full of hope and soaring words. All she wants to do is fly and knock bombers out of the sky, but it's this daring that seals her fate, and just like that, we've reached the meat of the story: Rose's incarceration at Ravensbruck.

I don't even know how to write about this. The first part is conveyed in diary format, as Rose's everyday journal. The Ravensbruck section is written by Rose three weeks after she has left the camp, so the mood is radically different. It's utterly heartbreaking, but so stunning.It's an unflinching account of the horrors these women underwent, but it's also a tale of the strength and friendship of the prisoners.

You know, it almost makes me laugh to write about. What was the first thing you worried about when you found yourself a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp, Rosie? Gosh darn it, holes in my nylon hose!

That's why I love Rose. She made me laugh even under horrendous circumstances. The friendships she finds in the camp are what get her, and the reader, through. There's prickly Roza, a Polish girl who's one of "the Rabbits", aka victims of Nazi "experiments". They've destroyed her legs completely. She and the other Rabbits are protected by the entire camp, because they're the evidence. Everybody wants them to get out alive, because they physically bear proof of Nazi evil. She also swears like a sailor and has a fearsome temper. Oh, I love Roza. There's Elodie, the French girl who's a wizard at smuggling contraband through her friends and adding personal touches. There's Irina, tall, fearsome Soviet fighter pilot. OH, AND THERE'S A CHARACTER FROM CODE NAME VERITY SNUCK IN. Just to make you die a little.

Hope--you think of hope as a bright thing, a strong thing, sustaining. But it's not. It's the opposite. It's simply this: lumps of stale bread stuck down your shirt. Stale gray bread eked out with ground fish bones, which you won't eat because you're going to give it away, and maybe you'll get a message through to your friend. That's all you need.

This book is not a history lesson on the Holocaust. The Jewish experience is never really mentioned, because this book is from the POV of Rose, and she's housed with political prisoners: French resistance fighters, Polish Rabbits, and Soviet pilots. And it's about heroism in it's smallest, most difficult, most everyday forms, and sacrifice and love and perseverance and ahhhhh

"You should have seen what I got up to when I worked in the post office," Micheline said. "We'd put big black censor stamps all over instructions being sent to German officers, or we'd steam open envelopes and swap letters around so they went to the wrong people, or steam off stamps so there was postage due--and anything that came from Paris with a German name on it we'd return to sender. Every now and then we'd send off a mailbag with a burning cigarette butt tied up inside it. My God, I miss the thrill of being a civil servant!"

In this book, the horrors happen up close. The tragedies are given faces and names (so many names). Rose's eyes are fully opened, and they'll never be closed again. The only thing that helps is poetry, and so Rose writes dozens and dozens of poems for her fellow inmates. These poems... man. I don't even... Seriously, you just have to read them yourselves. I'm getting all verklempt just thinking about them. The book is full of horror and pain and evil, but it's the poetry, and the warmth, and the strong people who stand out. So many vibrant people live and die in fictional Ravensbruck that it begins to impress upon you just how many real people lived and died in Ravensbruck.

Again, it's the tiny things that crack your heart open. Yes, I felt teary thinking about gas chambers and brutal beating and bullets to the head. But it was a silly song about painted toenails that broke me. It was Rose singing her poetry to the other girls in the dark. It was Irina's paper airplanes, Elodie's embroidered blue roses, and Rose thinking about her family at home and the way her life used to be.

READ THIS BOOK. And get your tissues ready. And just... be ready to feel everything. Elizabeth Wein is a master. By definition, she's chosen a subject matter that will connect with every reader with a soul. But it's her execution of it that puts her in a league above the rest. It's her prose, woven with pain and hope, the way she paints such a rich historical setting with just a detail (in Europe, they'd put duct tape in an X over the windows to prevent them from shattering in a bomb blast), and the subtleties of the characters. It's easy to make a big, tragic death sad, but how Wein really acheives greatness is in how she depicts their lives. Because ultimately, that's what this book is about: living, living, living.

Now I'm going to go cry in the corner.

Profile Image for Linda Hart.
733 reviews139 followers
April 28, 2016
This is a sequel to Code Name Verity, one of my favorite books last year, but you don't have to read the first book in order to understand this one. The character development is incredible, and realistic. Elizabeth Wein is a capable, skilled wordsmith and author.

Rose Justice, a naive young woman who as a girl learned flying at the knee of her father, is an eager American pilot. She is the owner of a flight school in Pennsylvania and leaves to go to England in order to join the Air Transport Auxiliary and assist the Allied cause. On return to England from a flying assignment to France she disappears. She has been captured and taken to Germany and ends up in Ravensbruck, a women's concentration camp, with women prisoners from France, Poland, and Germany. This is the prison camp where Corrie Ten Boom was sent, and the experiences of the women there were so horrible and beyond imagination, it's no wonder that people at the time didn't believe the stories coming out of Europe. You want so desperately to believe it's all made up and stuff like this never happened. But it did. For that reason I think Rose Under Fire is important. We owe it to those people to never forget. "Tell the world." That's what the characters cry, over and over. "Tell the world." And I thought about that, over and over, throughout the whole book.

If the facts don't get to you, the characters will. While the characters are fictional, real women went through the events described. They are wonderful, strong and fierce and they look out for each other no matter the cost. They are believable, and I will not forget them, so desperate to live or at least to get their story out.

The author, Elizabeth Wein, is a poet and she skillfully uses that vehicle to record Rose's experiences and thoughts. Poetry is an escape and balm for Rose throughout the book. In prison she is changed into a ghost of her younger self. Yet the reader sees, through the lyrical, soaring words in the dozens of short lovely poems she writes and shares with her fellow inmates in the dark, that the young optimistic Rose is still there and that she will eventually heal. Those poems--their brightness of hope, their warmth, their clarity--are heartrendingly beautiful.

This is a story about real events. It is not a quick nor an easy read. It is a story about hope, when it's not the thing with feathers. “Hope is the most treacherous thing in the world. It lifts you and lets you plummet. But as long as you're being lifted you don't worry about plummeting. . . Hope is treacherous, but how can you live without it?” It is a story of friendship, and the camaraderie of women of all nationalities and walks of life, a story about the strength of humanity even as their humanity was stripped from them. It is brutally honest, but it has a perfect, powerful ending with closure and a bit of happiness.

The events and setting of this historical novel are incredibly well researched and are eloquently presented in a thought provoking way. To quote another reviewer, she "nicely gives you a little bit of a history lesson and you learn things without even realizing this. . . this is a true gift - education all wrapped up in a compelling story." From Rose Under Fire and Code Name Verity both, I learned a great deal of history, and gained a deeper awareness and appreciation of the largely unrecognized amazing women pilots of WWII and the incredible women prisoners of that war. Code Name Verity is my favorite of the 2 books, but I highly recommend both.

I really appreciate the factual information which follows the story.
Audio version, excellent.

“Hope has no feathers
Hope takes flight
tethered with twine
like a tattered kite,
slave to the wind's
capricious drift
eager to soar
but needing lift

Hope waits stubbornly
watching the sky
for turmoil, feeding on
things that fly:
crows, ashes, newspapers,
dry leaves in flight
all suggest wind
that could lift a kite

Hope sails and plunges
firmly caught
at the end of her string -
fallen slack, pulling taught,
ragged and featherless.
Hope never flies
but doggedly watches
for windy skies.”
― Elizabeth Wein, Rose Under Fire

Profile Image for Emily.
122 reviews31 followers
March 26, 2016
I honestly don't know how I could write an even remotely coherent review for this masterpiece, but I will try. I'm a sniveling mess, thank you very much.

Rose Under Fire is the companion novel to Code Name Verity. You don't have to read Code Name Verity first but I would recommend it. (You won't need to have read Code Name Verity either in order to read this review. So continue on, my spoiler-free friend.)

I put this book off for SIX months after I bought it last September, just as I did with Code Name Verity almost a year ago. I was so largely intimidated by this book. I was 100% sure that it would rip my heart out and smash it to smithereens, just like with Code Name Verity. To put it simply: I just wasn't ready to go through all that again. It took me a long time to recover from Code Name Verity, and I expect it will take me a long to recover from this one.

Elizabeth Wein is the best historical fiction writer I have ever come across. Her research is perfection. Her words are so beautiful. You can really tell that every single one was given a lot of thought. If you intend to read an Elizabeth Wein book, do so with a box of tissues and a few hundred chocolate bars in a sad attempt at keeping your heart intact. But I really don't care who you are, I will recommend her books to my very last breath. I think EVERYONE should read these.

Every character had so much depth, and that's not even the right word for it. Karolina and Roza and Lisette and Anna and Maria and the stinking Commander and Nick and everyone in between. And MADDIE. Oh, my MADDIE CAMEOS.

There were so many characters, but did I ever get them confused or lose track of them? Nope. Because Elizabeth Wein is pure genius. The way she weaved together every one of her characters - some of them real people who survived the Nazi concentration camp Ravensbrück, all of them based on the real accounts and survivors - are such captivating and beautiful people and all I want to do is hug them and snuggle with them and feed them cake to their cute little hearts' content.

And little ROSIE. Rose was such a flawless main character and I adore her. Of course she is not perfectly flawless, she has her flaws and her struggles, but that is what makes her flawless in my mind. She's just so darn lovable. She's believable and realistic and deep. I couldn't get enough. Already I want to re-read this book, and I'm sure that I will. (And now I definitely need to re-read Code Name Verity.)

Now I'm also itching to read the real stories of Ravensbrück survivors; Elizabeth provided several pages of references in the back of the book. And the AUTHOR'S NOTE. I am forever in awe of Elizabeth Wein and her magic way of words. I'm not even exaggerating in the slightest. She is amazing. I beg you to read these books because I could talk for hours about them with you. You're missing out if you haven't read them yet.

I will warn younger and/or more sensitive readers that this book has some heavy content. There is foul language and, as I'm sure you can imagine and expect, horrific details from real accounts of Holocaust survivors. If you set out to read this book, I just want you to be aware and keep in mind these things.

TEN BILLION STARS, to the moon and back.

Emily @ forthebookish.com
Profile Image for Tiff.
581 reviews536 followers
August 30, 2013
Warning: this review contains MINOR spoilers. Like, spoilers for things that become obvious within the first 20% or 50-70 pages of the book, and aren't really big reveals. If you don't like any spoilers, don't read. But if you're okay with a little bit of prior info, read on. 

This is, once again, one of the toughest reviews I've had to write, because there's so much to say about Rose Under Fire, and so little that I can really say about it. As I learned from reading Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein's first book - so much is in the experience of reading her books, and it's hard for me to describe much without delving into that feeling.

So here goes. A very feelings-driven review.

Rose Under Fire started VERY slowly for me, much like Code Name Verity. It took me so long to get into Rose, even though she's fun, sweet, young, and a talented pilot, and yes, she knows a few characters from the first book. That part was cute, but I also kind of felt like the beginning of the book lead-up was nothing but a Rose character study, and I felt like it was only there to contrast with the horrors of what came next.

That said, what came next was brilliantly and boldly written. Elizabeth Wein does not pull any punches with us. If you found the intensity and the brutality of Code Name Verity hard, get ready. This is just as hard, just as matter-of-fact, and just as gasp-inducing.

Read the rest of this review at Mostly YA Lit
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,127 reviews2,172 followers
September 9, 2013
What to possibly say about Rose Under Fire? Honestly, Elizabeth Wein's name speaks for itself. After the brilliant and tear-inducing Code Name Verity, I knew to expect great things going into this book, and I wasn't disappointed. I found this novel a tad bit easier to get into, only because the beginning chronicles the life of Rose Justice, an American pilot during WWII who loves her job and remains untainted by the war. It's a naive telling, but a mostly content one. When true horror finally finds Rose, the juxtaposition between her life before and after is so palpably felt. Once again, Wein writes about the strong bonds and friendships between women, and she writes these beautifully. I find she is practically unrivaled when it comes both to character development and historical fiction. Unlike most authors, Wein has mastered the art of placing fact alongside fiction and making it into a believable tale. While I found this novel to lack a bit of the emotional punch that Code Name Verity contained, along with the literary genius of Julie's prose, it is still an extraordinary novel. If you loved Code Name Verity at all, this is a must-read. And if you haven't read Code Name Verity yet, then why are you waiting for your heart to get broken? Grab a dozen boxes of tissues and get to it - at once!
Profile Image for Laurence R..
617 reviews87 followers
September 27, 2015
This book is amazing. I wish there were more words for me to explain how much I loved it, but seriously, it's just too hard to explain.

I love historical fiction, but this book took it one step higher. It's all about the horrors that happened during WWII, instead of having a romantic twist to relieve the readers from all the stress and the sadness. I really liked that. The story has made the main character, Rose, such a fragile yet strong person that it would take her years to meet new people that she can be herself with, especially if those people haven't experienced horrors like she did. This book truly showed me how, even when everything ended, the war wasn't over and everyone couldn't be happy, because they had just gone through hell and they were expected to go on as if nothing happened. It's really hard to think about all the damages, from the killed humans to those traumatized people who had to continue living for their friends who died.

I very highly recommend this novel. I sadly haven't read the first book in the series because I can't find it anywhere, but you can be assured I'm going to read it now.
Profile Image for Rachel Neumeier.
Author 45 books498 followers
October 6, 2016
Actual stars: at least ten!

You know, if you tried to write bad guys as totally, utterly evil as the Nazis into a secondary world fantasy . . . you couldn’t do it. I truly don’t believe you could. I’ve been thinking about how I might try to do that, and honestly, your readers just wouldn’t believe in your villains. The Nazis were simply beyond belief.

We see this every time we get reminded about what they actually were like, what they did. Remember the first time you saw Shindler’s List? I do. Because it is a great story and a great movie as well as a history lesson, it sticks with the viewer. Or it did with me.

And I expect I’ll remember the first time I read Rose Under Fire.

This is a great story. That’s essential. But it’s definitely also a history lesson; an important one in this era when – it seems to me – young people (and some not so young) have basically forgotten all about WWII and the Nazis. They know the names, but they have forgotten what the Nazis were like. That’s why people can throw around the Nazi accusation and the Hitler comparisons so freely: because they have no idea what they’re saying.

Has any group ever been as purely, comprehensively, calculatedly evil as the Nazis? Not even ISIS, probably. The ISIS thugs practice slavery and rape, torture and murder. They’re definitely evil. But tying down little girls, splitting open their legs, packing the wounds with gangrene, and leaving the wounds untreated for weeks to see what happens? I doubt that would ever occur to them, if only because I doubt they have any conception of rational thought. That sort of thing takes a . . . peculiar veneer, shall we say . . . of rationality.

Maybe North Korea comes close? They’ve got the death camps, but even they (probably) don’t do sadistic medical experiments on young teenage girls. Do they? Dear God, I hope they don’t.

So, the Nazis. The heart of Rose Under Fire is the concentration camp of Ravensbrück, and in particular the Polish “Rabbits.” These were the girls and women used in those experiments. Despite this, this story is not just a compelling read, it is actually uplifting. The bravery of the women at Ravensbrück is as astounding as the evil of the Nazi doctors and the concentration camp guards. Those women never gave up. I mean, of course some did. But as we see in the story, others hid the Rabbits, shared their bread when they were starving, and made continual tiny gestures of defiance. And huge gestures of defiance, sometimes – smuggling the Rabbits out to (slightly) less awful camps and propping dead women up in their places during roll call to get the count to come out even, for example.

Though the story is definitely centered around Ravensbrück and the Polish Rabbits, it is not a documentary. Like Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire has one primary narrator who tells its story in epistolary form.

Rose is a young woman pilot, an ATA pilot who loves poetry. She’s American; she had a really nice childhood with a close-knit family and a father who owns a flight school, so she’s been flying since she was a kid. Her job is to ferry new and repaired planes to the airfields where they’ll be used by the fighter pilots. She came to England specifically to help with the war effort. And she’s terrified of buzz bombs.

Buzz bombs are an important element in this story, partly because it’s after Rose spots one in the air and successfully tips it – makes it stall – that she gets lost, is spotted by German fighter pilots, and is captured. She winds up in Ravensbrück shortly after that. And because of the epistolary format of the story, when Part II opens, the first thing we find out – thank God – is that she survives. Because she couldn’t write anything much while she was in the concentration camp, so when she picks her notebook back up, it’s after everything is over.

This is a huge plus for the reader, as you might imagine. No matter how grim the rest of the story gets, you know Rose is going to escape. And she does. But along the way, Ravensbrück comes to life for the reader. Rose herself, of course, already has. She is such a beautifully drawn protagonist. Brave, but not unbelievably brave. Self-sacrificing, but not unbelievably noble. Honest, but not unbelievably self-aware – she is as capable of fooling herself as anyone.

They [starving women] were so far from being human that at first it didn’t even occur to me they could be fellow prisoners – I thought they must be hobos who had crawled in off the train tracks. God knows what I thought! Your brain does amazing acrobatics when it doesn’t want to believe something.

Rose feels completely real.

And she escapes. Plenty of people did escape from Nazi concentration camps, generally to be recaptured and shot. But here, Rose escapes, with two of her friends – and we know which ones from the moment Part II starts. That makes it so much easier to read, seriously.

Of course, Rose couldn’t have escaped without the help of other prisoners and a lot of luck. She thinks this over and over: I am so lucky. It’s quite striking, under the circumstances. And yet, she *is* really lucky. Not in a way that threatens to knock the reader out of the story. Still, her acknowledging that she is lucky does make the occasional handy coincidence more believable.

And after the fact . . . talk about post-traumatic stress. I want to re-emphasize that Rose is such a real person. And real people do not come out of something like that with a casual quip and stroll away untouched.

At first I dreamed that you
offered warm arms of comfort and strength,
pulling me close,
your soft lips brushing and kissing my bare head,
all of you loving me,
the nightmare over and the dream come true –
Now I only dream that you
offer me bread.

She does recover, I will add here. But not unchanged, because of course not. The poetry sprinkled throughout – by Rose herself, and a lot by Edna St Vincent Millay – encapsulates something of the experience of Ravensbrück in a way that prose can’t. (I’m such a sucker for fiction that includes poetry, it turns out.)

The secondary characters also seem like living people. Róza and Irina and Elodie and Lisette – somehow for me Lisette’s personal story is the most purely heartbreaking, though I don’t even have children. Anna Engel is one of my favorites; she demonstrates that a rough-talking chain-smoking German woman who’s worked directly for the Nazis can be as heroic as anybody. She is probably the most important continuing character from Code Name Verity and I loved her there, too – the way she changed completely in the reader’s eyes over the course of the story. Here, of course, we already know that she is a decent person.

The way the ending unrolls is believable, too. The way Rose can’t face telling anyone about what happened to her or what Ravensbrück was actually like, even though she swore – with all the rest – to tell the world. She has to work through that block. And she does. She can’t bring herself to testify at the Nuremburg trials where the doctors are held to account for the Polish Rabbits, but the story closes with the reader certain that she will indeed testify at the one where everyone else is held to account for Ravensbrück.

This is an intense but immensely readable story, intricately composed and beautifully told, with characters you’re certain must have been real (some were) shown against a background you really can’t believe could ever have been real (it was). Everyone should read this, and remember that not only does real evil exist, but that it’s possible for ordinary people to fight it.
Profile Image for Steph Su.
958 reviews450 followers
August 22, 2013
For me, Code Name Verity's domination of the YA literary scene came about not from its compelling premise and thriller-like aspects, but from the strength of Elizabeth Wein's writing, of her writing voice. Which is why I never had a doubt that ROSE UNDER FIRE wouldn't be excellent. To have what the narrative voice that I associated with Julie/Maddie in CNV seemingly transplanted onto Rose was a little jarring at first for me--but then Rose's own unique brand of strength emerged, roaring, and fed my readerly sympathies and investment. She is smart, resilient, and a much more resonant writer than she gives herself credit for... in other words, exactly the kind of YA heroine that can win hearts anywhere.

ROSE UNDER FIRE deals with a particular dark chapter of World War II history: Nazi doctors performing torturous experiments in the name of "scientific advancement" on young prisoners. The very idea alone is chilling enough, but ROSE UNDER FIRE stays clear of historical moroseness and heavy-handed eulogizing by ensuring that its focus stays clearly on the characters. Rose is joined on the page by more admirable female supporting characters than I can keep track of. What Wein does so well in her two WWII historical novels is that she doesn't merely let the characters' predicaments demand readers' sympathies: rather, the characters--big-hearted, smart-mouthed, brave or frightened--and the empathy they deserve speak for themselves. These are characters we would like anywhere, in any story, in any time period.

Elizabeth Wein has accomplished what few YA writers have yet to do, and that is to make historical fiction popular and resonant. If she continues to write historical fiction, I'll for sure be glad, but I'd also be happy with whatever else she chooses to write in the future. Her surehanded characterization and narrative voice have made me a fan through everything.
Profile Image for Sebastien Castell.
Author 47 books4,303 followers
December 18, 2015
Rose Under Fire is a sequel of sorts to Wein's previous YA historical, Code Name Verity. Once again Elizabeth Wein brings a brilliant voice, twisting narrative, and fascinating view of the events of World War II. However this book differs from the first in two important ways:

First, the main character of this novel is an eighteen year-old American air transport pilot named Rose Justice. Rose brings a different voice to the second book in the series--almost a mix between Julie and Maddie's voices from Code Name Verity. Rose is a poet in the deepest sense--navigating the tragedies and triumphs in her story in part by constructing poems to hold them in place. While in some ways I missed Julie's cleverness and daring, those qualities wouldn't have made sense in this book given the context in which it takes place.

Rose Under Fire takes place in a concentration camp, among the female captives of the German army. It deals with extremely dark material--as is necessary given the setting and events taking place. That makes this book a harder, more uncomfortable read than the first. However, it is a worthwhile read and Wein's dedication to getting the facts right keeps it from sinking into either outright fantasy or grim despair.

What's most remarkable to me about Rose Under Fire for me is the way that Elizabeth Wein weaves the narrative between the events as they occur and Rose's later situation writing from inside a Paris hotel room. The format allows the reader to get a breath every once in a while--to escape the horrors of the concentration camp and be reminded that all will not be lost, even as we wonder about those other women whose fates remain unknown. It's this structure that makes Rose Under Fire a dark, disturbing historical novel that is nonetheless filled with hope and just the right hint of adventure.
Profile Image for Sylvie .
682 reviews951 followers
June 7, 2018
Before even starting with the book I thought it was going to be centred on Maddie from Code Name Verity, but I was wrong. Instead we meet a whole new character: a young American girl Rose Justice who works as a pilot for the RAF, while piloting she falls into the hands of the enemy aka Germans, then Rose lands in the concentration camp Ravensbrück, where she experiences the atrocities of the Nazis first-hand. There she develops a friendship with a small group of women in her barracks and her poetry keep Rose halfway up her feet and she hopes to hold out until the Allies release her.

Instead of concentrating on the War that we experienced in the previous books, here we got to see how Nazis treat their ''enemies'' like making experiments on them, torturing them and various other horrid things. I wanted to see more adventures and not how Germans treat women/girls in the camps.

I was really excited for this book thinking I would certainly love it as much as CNV or even more, and I wasn't, somehow it felt like it dragged on.

It wasn't that bad but by the end I was definitely ready and glad for it to be over with. Perhaps because it was so dark and depressing I could only take so much of it. I kept hoping that it'll get better, it never did, maybe it was because too brutal and it stressed me out a lot.

However, it's a good and realistic book about WWII, if you're into WWII and the single details within then this is definitely something for you.

Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,280 reviews1,654 followers
September 10, 2013
Actual rating: 4.5 Stars

Code Name Verity is one of those rare books that awed both critics and actual readers. Initially, I almost DNFed Code Name Verity, but I ended up being seriously impressed with both Wein's writing and her gumption. At the same time, though, Code Name Verity never really got me right in the feels, the way it did so many other people. Thus, though I suspect it may not be a popular opinion, I love Rose Under Fire more than Code Name Verity. Once again, Wein's story is incredibly dark and daring, and with a powerful narrative voice.

As Rose Under Fire began, I really wasn't sure how I felt about Rose Justice. She's very different from Julie and Maddie, the heroines of Code Name Verity. Rose lacks their seriousness and their cleverness; she's not stupid, but she's a good deal more innocent and has seen less of life's dangers. Thus far, she's been sheltered and pampered, and, like many Americans setting off for the front, she sees the war as something romantic and anticipates performing heroic actions. She desperately hopes to be allowed to fly to France, stifling under the few jobs that American female civilian pilots are allowed to perform in the war effort.

Rose's narration fits her perfectly. Her sentences are long and push forward with excitement, as though venturing out in search of something exciting and wonderful. There's a perkiness to her in the beginning, a freshness, as well as a flair for the poetic, coming through in metaphors and unique word choices. As Rose's story darkens, the brightness and naivete seeps out of her narration, leaving her the same Rose, but weighted down by all that she has experienced.

Wein looks at World War II through a female lens, which is part of what makes these two books disparate from the mass of WWII fiction out there. The youth of the characters also distinguishes this series from the rest, particularly given the unflinching treatment Wein gives the dark subject matter. Wein does not shy away from the atrocities committed, and in Rose Under Fire she focuses on the concentration camps, particularly Ravensbrück.

Last year, I read a nonfiction novel about a train full of women sent to Auschwitz called A Train in Winter. As I read Rose's account of her time in Ravensbrück, I could not help compare this fictional experience with what I learned in A Train in Winter. That book puts forward the theory that the women were better able to survive in Auschwitz because of the way they all supported one another throughout the whole experience, putting the survival of the group over that of individuals, and creating a real family with their fellow prisoners. This same sort of spirit appears in Rose Under Fire, as Rose bonds with her bunk mates, the Rabbits. So many women survive Ravensbrück that might not have because of the way they all worked together and helped buoy one another's spirits. Those that did not survive will be remembered, their names memorized for posterity, and justice searched out in their honor.

The most heartrending aspect of Rose Under Fire is the accounting of the Rabbits, the women who make themselves into a protective family for Rose. These "rabbits" were medical test subjects. They were shot with bullets, given gangrene, amputated, and had bones removed from their legs so doctors could test cures for soldiers on the front. What these women went through is unbelievably horrific, but they are still such powerfully strong characters, such fighters, so desperate to live or at least get their story out. While the characters are fictional, real women went through these sorts of experiments and these tears that are slipping out of my eyes as I type (yes, this book did manage to make me cry) are for them. Wein's Afterword, in which she explains why she wrote this book, really drives the whole point of the book home.

Much as I loved this book, I was not a fan of Rose's poetry. Though I did quite enjoy Edna St. Vincent Millay's excerpts and the reference to Emily Dickinson in one of Rose's poems, I did not get Rose's. Most of them felt like prose chopped up into shorter lines to me. However, I will be the first to admit that I do not really get poetry. My heart and mind like prose. As such, I found myself generally skimming through her poems, since even reading them aloud didn't make them work for me, a technique that often helps me find the rhythm in the poetry and comprehend its beauty.

Rarely do books evoke so much of an emotional response from me, so suffice it to say that Rose Under Fire has every bit of the powerful emotional punch of Code Name Verity. I wouldn't really say that one or the other is a better book, but likely one will resonate more with each reader. I highly encourage readers to try these beautiful, emotional, historically resonant novels. Also, please note that while these are fabulous books for teen readers, they have wonderful crossover potential, and are good books to give out to skeptical adults who do not believe teen fiction can be literary.
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