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Rose Under Fire

Average Rating 4.5
( 14 )
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  • Posted January 28, 2014

    Historical fiction was the genre that convinced me I loved readi

    Historical fiction was the genre that convinced me I loved reading, specifically historical fiction during World War II. Reading Lois Lowry's Number the Stars was a life-changing experience for me. It makes sense that this is still the type of book I hold closely to my heart, and I don't think it's surprising that I loved Code Name Verity so much. Nor is it a surprise that Rose Under Fire made me feel the same way.

    I also think it's timely that I'm publishing my review for this book on Remembrance Day. After all, Rose does say that she'll tell the world, doesn't she? Rose Under Fire is so much more than a story, it's a reminder to us all that we can't ever forget. And the reason we can't ever forget is because we have so much to learn from this story, and while Rose's story is fictional the circumstances are not.

    Reasons to Read:

    1. Rose's story is timely:

    Every year that passes is another year that we've moved further away from World War II. And every year I wonder if this means that we're one step closer to forgetting. I sincerely hope not. This is why stories like this are so important, because it gives those of us who have never truly experienced war firsthand one method of understanding and empathizing. I believe there is something critical in remembrance.

    2. The value of friendship:

    The one aspect of Rose Under Fire that stood out to me was Rose's experience in Ravensbruck. I thought it would be so full of despair that it would crush me, and I had to set the book aside for a while because of that. And of course it's heartbreaking. But the bonds Rose makes with the women she meets in the concentration camp are so unexpected and shockingly optimistic. I think that really says something about the difference a friend can make in a dark place.

    3. Elizabeth Wein's strength as a writer:

    I struggled through the first half of Code Name Verity. But I finished it (and loved it) and I had an idea of what to expect when I started reading Rose Under Fire. But Rose Under fire is a very different book, because Rose is a very different character with another perspective. Rose's character change is subtle from the beginning of the book to its end, and that can be credited to Elizabeth Wein's talent. The story isn't merely written so much as it is delicately crafted. 

    While Rose Under Fire is more of a companion to Code Name Verity than a sequel, but there are a few pieces of the story that I think are best appreciated if you've already read Code Name Verity. 

    Review copy received from Random House Canada for review; no other compensation was received. 

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2013

    Historical Fiction at its best

    So important a book that my 15 year old granddaughter will be reading it my presence. Although this book starts off slowly, it takes off like a shot and doesn't let you down.

    Rose grew up in America, and has been piloting planes since age 12, and writing poems all her life. When England enters WW2, the 18 year old needs to do something. She enlists the help of her British uncle to help the war effort by ferrying unarmed planes for repair around England, and later into France. When she is captured by German pilots, she finds herself imprisoned as a member of the "French Resistance" in Ravensbruck. There she lives with the "Rabbits", young women who were subjected to horrific medical experimentation.

    The experiences and emotions are very realistic. Rose uses her writing gift to describe her experiences and to entertain her fellow prisoners. In the process, she also educates the readers.

    Wonderful book

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2013

    as a follow-up to the beautiful and lyrical code name verity, ro

    as a follow-up to the beautiful and lyrical code name verity, rose under fire pulls the reader along on a wonderfully dovetailed sequel. RUF is just as spellbinding as CNV, and just as un-put-down-able. wein's painstaking detail gives a clear, vivid, occasionally sickening picture of life in a concentration camp, along with flashes of happier, lovelier times. highly recommend!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2013

    "Tell the World"

    An innocent view of life soon changes. The book begins with a child-like narrative that i forced myself to read in order to understand Rose's background. This changes abruptly when circumstances lead to American-born Rose's capture and imprisonment at a notorious concentration camp during WWII. Within the confines of evil and conditions of Hell, the bonds of friendship form as Rose and several other women struggle to survive. Although a work of fiction, Rose Under Fire is well-researched and based on facts that occurred during a very dark and evil time of human history. And while it is difficult to imagine the horrors and atrosities that human beings are capable of committing, the Holocaust was all too real.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 11, 2013

    Great Book

    Very Good Read, you will not be disappointed - I loved it!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2014

    This was an incredibly powerful book.  It describes the Nazi con

    This was an incredibly powerful book.  It describes the Nazi concentration camp experience in a way that almost imparts the smell of the place as you read, without getting so graphic that you don't want to continue reading (an experience I've had with another book about a concentration camp).  But more than anything it was the description of what the person who had been in the concentration camp had to go through after she had been liberated, and so was safe, to begin to feel safe and like a human being again, that was so gut-wrenching.  I don't think that I will ever forget what the protagonist in this story went through; I think that it has changed my life.

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  • Posted November 8, 2014

    Having read the wonderful Code Name Verity, I really looked forw

    Having read the wonderful Code Name Verity, I really looked forward to reading Rose Under Fire. Though not quite as brilliant as its prequel, this is a wonderfully researched and often heartbreaking tale in its own right.

    In a desperate, if slightly impulsive effort to possibly save Paris from a flying bomb, Rose Justice is caught by the German Luftwaffe and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp. During this life-changing period she meets the Rabbits: Polish victims of Nazi human experimentation. Together with several others Rose resolves to get out of the camp and tell the world about these atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis.

    Rose, the main character, is a girl who knows what she wants, naturally attracts others and can think clearly in a crisis—just the kind of female lead I can relate to. Other well fleshed out characters include aggressive little Polish Róa, Red Army prisoner of war, Irina, and the motherly Lisette who attempts to look after a group of horribly crippled girls in the concentration camp.

    In this story the author manages to portray the absolute instability of war. Impulsive marriage proposals, hastily performed marriages, the devastation when a loved one goes missing, the paralyzing fear when your number is called for the gas chambers and the ultimate joy when the war is over is beautifully depicted in the pages of this book.

    On the other hand, the harsh reality of life in Ravensbrück; the hunger, the fear and the cruelty, are equally vividly described. I was deeply touched by the camaraderie that developed between so many women from vastly different nationalities.

    Several of the characters from Code Name Verity also appear in this book though not in key roles. The poetry written by Rose gives a lovely lyrical quality to the prose.  

    For a read that will thrill, horrify, and stir you to tears, but that should, ultimately, touch you and leave you fulfilled, I highly recommend Rose Under Fire. (Ellen Fritz)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2014


    It was perfect. You hear about these horrific Nazi camps all the time during history class, but you never realize how awful they actually were. This book is just as good as Code Name Verity, and I loved it.

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  • Posted April 6, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Eighteen year old Rose was steadfast in her goals in life. Flyi

    Eighteen year old Rose was steadfast in her goals in life. Flying since she was twelve, she became a ferry pilot with the ATA transporting British and American aircraft in WWII but she felt she was missing something. Rose wanted a more active role as she wanted to sit in the driver’s seat in these planes and feel the power. On one of her deliveries, Rose deflects a flying bomb and as she gets her plane back on course, intercepting planes from Germany are upon her. Forced to submit to them, the Germans are surprised to find a woman pilot when she steps out. What do they do with a female prisoner? On a bright blue September morning, Rose finds herself in Ravensbruck, a Nazi concentration camp for women. Rose meets some of the brightest and cleverest individuals her eyes have ever seen, in the most disgusting and revolting conditions an individual should never have to face. I was struck by the determination and the sisterhood that developed between the prisoners as they struggle to survive. Every day, sun up and sun down, their lives revolved around being a number that no one cared about. They clung to each other and offered each other hope, love and a friendship that only people in this situation would understand. Rose meets a group of prisoners called the Rabbits and these individuals had my head shaking as their lives were so scarred. Rose, once a young pilot soaring high among the birds with big dreams, now rises as #51498, who is a bald individual with lice, fleas, and scarred marks on her back. This young girl still has dreams, only her dreams have changed from months ago and they included a lot more individuals.
    The friendship among these women was fantastic and that made this book so special to me. Living in such harsh condition where some days you barely had enough to survive yourself, here was a group of women who cared about each other and they worried about each other. They didn’t have much to work with yet they did the best that they could. There was the language barrier with some of the women and I stopped reading the book and I thought about the noises as the women translated so everyone would understand the message involved. It was this community, this commitment to each other; such a strange place to have this bond and affection when there was so much pain happening outside their barbed wire. Rose was determined and she thought she could make a difference as a pilot and as I looked back after reading the book and see many ways she did that in the camp with the women. Her attitude and her understanding was all some of these women needed sometimes. What a marvelous read.

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  • Posted October 12, 2013

    I can applaud historical fiction that is written in an attempt t

    I can applaud historical fiction that is written in an attempt to get a message across or in this case serve as a reminder never to forget the atrocities of the Holocaust. However taking the step in fiction when it comes to relaying events that happened during that time, especially the crimes, then I do think it can be . Mixing fiction with factual eyewitness testimony could make a reader question what is fact and what is fiction in certain scenes/books. I am thinking of younger readers, who are perhaps not so knowledgeable about the Holocaust.
    The first part of the book dwells far too much on the flying and is often drawn out and disjointed. The second half that covers the time in the concentration camp and after the war, is much more structured and clearer.
    The author concentrates on the story of the test subjects 'The Rabbits' in medical section of Ravensbrück. The young people who were used like lab rats. Cut up, mutilated, gangrene sewn into their bodies, bones and flesh chopped out of their limbs all in the name of medical science. The story describes how some these women bonded together through their fate and how they tried to save each other and survive the horror.
    I felt the most pivotal part of the book was in the last few chapters. The discussions and thought processes during the trials, between Rose and the surviving girls.
    Rose doesn't want to testify against the war criminals. There are some interesting scenes depicting the victims and their reactions post-war. The years of living in the camps with the abusers and murderers have conditioned the victims. They have been conditioned to shrink back, flinch, to stay out of sight and mind, and most importantly not speak up. Most of them are still frightened by their abusers, which makes speaking out against them in open court a non-option.
    This was something I dwelt upon, because I think most of us assume that feelings of anger and vengeance would be the at the forefront of each victims mind, when in fact it was probably still the fear. I had to wrap my head round the fact that my first reaction was to feel anger at the victims and Rose in general for not wanting to shout out the crimes committed against them to the world. Why wouldn't you do your best to put those murderers behind bars? Why wouldn't you seek vengeance for the dead?
    Instead I realised that the ones who spoke up then and the few remaining survivors of that era that still do, they speak for all and for the dead, because not everyone can. Similar to veterans of war conflict who often never speak about their traumatic experiences.
    Another important point that was made in the end was about Anna Engel. Brought in on a truck with Rose she goes from victim to aiding and abetting the SS medical team in their experiments. She chooses to collaborate to survive. She becomes part of the killing machine. Rose still sees her as a victim of circumstance. She feels sorry for Anna and the fact she will be facing a long prison sentence. Róz'a is one of the surviving Rabbits. She was mutilated during the experiments and Anna was part of that torture.
    I had a hard time understanding how Rose could be so complacent about Anna and her actions in the camp. Why does she still see her as one of the survivors, as opposed to one of the perpetrators? Are the actions of Kapos and collaborators really excusable just because they felt that they had no other choice and it was a do or die survival choice?
    Why doesn't Rose feel any kind of guilt towards Róz'a when she is hugging and being friendly to
    Anna Engel?
    I guess you can tell that there are many elements of the book that have made me ponder, which is usually the sign of a book worth reading. Overall I think it could have done with more structure in the first half and I stand by my fictional vs fact opinion in regards to the Holocaust.
    I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 12, 2014

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    Posted September 4, 2013

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    Posted May 12, 2014

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    Posted August 12, 2014

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