Rose Under Fire Paperback – 3 Jun 2013
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Praise for Code Name Verity
‘Code Name Verity does more than stick with me. It haunts me. I just can’t recommend it enough.’ – Author Maggie Stiefvater
‘I liked Code Name Verity enormously.… you are sucked into the viewpoint and don’t realise for a long time that everything is double edged and has a second meaning.’ – Author Helen Dunmore
‘A remarkable book, which had me horrified and totally gripped at the same time.’ – Daily Mail
About the Author
Elizabeth Wein was born in New York, and grew up in England, Jamaica and Pennsylvania. She is married with two children and now lives in Perth, Scotland.
Elizabeth is a member of the Ninety-Nines, the International Organization of Women Pilots. She was awarded the Scottish Aero Club's Watson Cup for best student pilot in 2003 and it was her love of flying that partly inspired the idea for Code Name Verity.
In 2012, Code Name Verity was a Boston Globe – Horn Book Awards Honor Book, and a New York Times best-seller. In 2013 it was awarded a Printz Honor.
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That worry was pretty stupid, because of course Rose Under Fire was great. It tells the story of a young American girl who puts her passion for flying to use as she delivers planes for the allies in Britain, taking them to where they need to be for repairs or where fighter pilots need them. Rose is frustrated by the fact that the female ATA pilots cannot travel abroad. However, she has a few family connections, and strings are pulled that allow her to fly to a part of France recently liberated by the allies. That’s where something goes wrong.
The story has a slow start, but it’s not a bad kind of slow. It sets up Rose’s character well, the position of women in the air force, and what it was like for those in Britain during the Blitz. Wein is brilliant at crafting a believable voice for her first-person narrators. Both Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire are written in diary format. The little descriptions Wein throws in of Rose’s childhood are detailed yet short, building up a believable portrait of Rose Justice.
Rose is headstrong yet romantic, and it’s these qualities that get her through the horrors of the war as one headstrong mistake lands her in enemy territory, away from the relative safety she has known in Britain and America.
We don’t initially find out quite what’s happened to Rose. Her diary ends abruptly a quarter of the way through when she is supposed to be heading home from France and the voice changes to a friend. From this section, we glean that Rose has gone missing, presumed dead. Then, Rose’s voice returns some six months later. She has made it back from Ravensbruck, the concentration camp for women.
The rest of the book follows Rose as she writes about the horrors she has witnessed and endured, as well as the struggles she faces readjusting to life after the war. Wein details a horrific and vivid depiction of Ravensbruck, making sure not to dress-up the story in a way that makes it easier to read. This part of the story is harrowing, yet tinged with hope, as Rose finds a surrogate family in the camp, with two stand-out characters being Roza and Irina.
Roza in particular was a captivating character, especially because of who she was. Roza is one of the Rabbits, Polish girls who were experimented on by the Nazis in Ravensbruck. These experiments involved, in very simple terms, cutting into the girls legs and studying infection, as well as removing parts of bones. As a result, Roza struggles to walk, but what has been done to her only enhances her already feisty, and sometimes heartless, nature. Roza can be really quite rude and spiteful, and it seems these are qualities she has had since childhood. Yet, despite the fact she can say some very nasty things, I really warmed to her. She’s determined, vicious, intent on justice for what has happened to the Rabbits. You can’t entirely blame her for her sometimes savage remarks after the way she’s been treated since her capture at age 14. She was definitely the most nuanced, as well as flawed yet likeable, character.
Then there is Irina, who is a Soviet fighter pilot. Like Roza, she can also be a bit hard, but together with Rose she is instrumental in the survival of this ragtag family of girls: Rose, Roza, Irina, Karolina and Lisette. They are determined that the world will know what has gone on here, that the world will find out what was done to the Rabbits. As the American, Rose is singled out as the one with the connections to get the story out there.
I really grew to love these characters. Even at the darkest moments, they stick together, intent on getting Roza and the other Rabbits’ story out of the camp. Sometimes when reading, I struggled with the fact that this all really happened. Whilst Rose’s personal story or Karolina’s or Lisette’s didn’t specifically happen, Ravensbruck did exist, and so did the Rabbits.
I thought the story was brilliantly written. Harrowing, hopeful, and not afraid to shy away from the realities of the war and the lengths these women would go to to make sure the world knew, to make sure that at least some of them got out alive.
Perhaps my only criticism, which is not actually a criticism, is that it ended too soon. I was so engrossed that when I turned the final page, I was shocked to see the notes from the author. I turned back and forth, confused, and then re-read the final passage, in disbelief that I wouldn’t find out any more.
I cannot recommend Rose Under Fire and Code Name Verity enough. Even if you’re not a fan of WWII fiction, I urge you to read them. The writing and characterisation is great, and the stories open your eyes to the atrocities that have been committed, and the hope that endured.
There was still the fate of all Rose's friends and even passing acquaintances to add tension, but there was never anything like the terror from Verity of not knowing until the very end what happened to Julie.
That said, the harrowing representation of the camp was absorbing and terrifying and literally awe-inspiring. If Wein's mission was to tell the world, that she most certainly did. And that in itself earned the 4th star for this review. It may not give the 5-star dizzying highs of Verity, but I would still highly recommend reading it nonetheless. The story of the Rabbits deserves to be told, to be remembered. Lest we ever forget.
I've now ordered a copy of the author's new book which is released in a few days. Let's hope this is another excellent read.
Rose Justice, a young American pilot (and amateur poet),is working for the ATA delivering planes and ferrying pilots for the RAF during World War 2. Whilst trying to bring down a 'pilotless plane' during one of her missions, she looses her way and ends up in the hands of the enemy. In Ravensbruck concentration camp she meets the 'Rabbits' - girls experimented on by Nazi doctors.
It's a chilling tale, but also one of bravery and friendship in the face of pure evil. Wonderfully told - Elizabeth Wein is a master story teller, and this book is un-put-downable.
The principal character of this book is Rose Justice, a young American woman ho has been working flying planes around Britain. Shortly after the D Day invasions she finds herself flying some luminaries to Paris. There she is scheduled to collect a spitfire to be flown back to Britain where it will be refitted as a reconnaissance plane. However, on her journey back she spots, and successfully deflects, a V1 bomb that had been launched against Paris. However, her diversion to tackle the V1 has disastrous consequences as it takes her beyond the front line, and while she si struggling to reorient herself she finds herself by two German jet-powered fighter planes.
Like Wein's previous novels, this is peopled with some very engaging characters, and Rose's plight is described in grim, but never sensationalist, detail.