Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Release Date - September 17, 2013
Publisher Website -  Random House
Publisher Social Media -  Twitter
Pages -  352 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**obtained for review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Rose Justice is a young pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War. On her way back from a semi-secret flight in the waning days of the war, Rose is captured by the Germans and ends up in Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi women's concentration camp. There, she meets an unforgettable group of women, including a once glamorous and celebrated French detective novelist whose Jewish husband and three young sons have been killed; a resilient young girl who was a human guinea pig for Nazi doctors trying to learn how to treat German war wounds; and a Nachthexen, or Night Witch, a female fighter pilot and military ace for the Soviet air force. These damaged women must bond together to help each other survive.

In this companion volume to the critically acclaimed novel Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein continues to explore themes of friendship and loyalty, right and wrong, and unwavering bravery in the face of indescribable evil.
A slower paced look at friendship where you least expect it, the strength people can possess within, and an unflinching look at real life horrors too devastating to imagine. The brilliantly written, thought provoking novel serves as the perfect companion to Code Name Verity, but most importantly stands on it's own merits.

Rose's story is unforgettable. It's life changing. It's soul crushing. It offered surprises. The biggest surprise is that while it changes Rose forever, it doesn't destroy her. Her, and her fellow prisoners find a way to go on. They find a way to support each other. They buoyed themselves with hope, even it seemed there was none to be found.  The bonds these girls make are forever. It shapes them, and allows them to know that they are not alone.

The feeling of terror grips almost immediately. As things progress it increases, until worry for these beloved characters has reached a fever pitch. The brutal reality of these places makes it clear that not everyone, perhaps not even Rose herself, will escape alive. Freedom is coming, but their captors are just as determined to erase any evidence of wrongdoing before that happens. It's like a ticking clock where you want to stop time, but you know it's going to race forward anyways. I've read quite a few books set during the war, but I don't recall a fictional one that captures the utter horror of being a prisoner in a concentration camp.

Almost has fascinating is the aftermath. What happens to the survivors? How did they cope? What kind of life did they return to? This, I expect, is different for everyone. We're treated to a few images of what it could have been like. The scars that will stay long after the pain has gone. The nightmares that will plague their sleep. The friends they mourn, and the friends they are desperate not to lose. These emotions are so perfectly capture that your heart can only break and swell as each emotion runs through you.

The amount of research, and care that went into this novel is plainly evident. This is a story close to the author's heart, and it shows. She handles it with compassion, and truth. Anger that what depicted in this novel is not just fiction. This actually happened to people like the girls we meet in these pages. It leaves you thankful to be alive in these times, and in awe of those who survived.

A companion novel allows us to glimpse some of the characters from Code Name Verity again. It was delightful to see where some of them had ended up. It felt like catching up with old friends, and helps put the length of the war in stark reality.

An emotionally draining, insightful, and impacting read. Rose's story will leaving you wanting to tell the world to read it, and leave a chilling reminder of the horror people can inflict on each other.

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