Monday, April 7, 2014

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

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Publication date: 2013
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 346
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 16+

In the companion to Code Name Verity, Rose (an American working in England as a civilian pilot) is captured when flying over Europe and sent to a concentration camp. There she meets women who show her the meaning of strength, hope, and family, all while endeavoring to find a way to escape and make it back to Allied territory.

Unlike Verity, I felt that Wein went more "typical" in this WWII novel while still putting a unique spin on it. As an American in a concentration camp, Rose's point of view is completely different from the stories we know about the Jews. And because it's in a concentration camp, the tone of the novel is entirely more depressing than Verity was. There were a few times that I had to put the book down and go do something else to get away from the feeling. While not necessarily bad, and I didn't feel manipulated by Wein, it's just something to keep in mind before you pick it up. There are descriptions during the camp scenes that are pretty horrific--just as it really was--and I felt my stomach turn a little at them.

I thought Verity was the superior book, but that this was a necessary one. The camp Rose is imprisoned in is a women's camp, and one where medical experiments were conducted. Just like in Wein's other book, this draws attention to things that history books and classes don't really concentrate on, and in a more narrow view than is usually given. It gives a different view of war besides who won and who lost, but instead addresses things like the victims of war, and how many of those victims had no real part in the war. Again, it's those shades of gray that we dismiss in our view of history that Wein brings out with intense attention to detail and emotion. I think this book would be particularly good for high school students to read while studying the war--while fictional, it's a personal view at what the war did, to people, to places, and to history.

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