Today, I'm reviewing Elizabeth Wein's Rose Under Fire for YA Historical Saturday. This is a spectacular follow-up to Wein's Code Name Verity, and I absolutely can't wait for all of you to read it.
YA historical Saturday is a rotating segment with YA Supernatural Saturday and YA Sci-Fi Saturday.
Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: September 10th 2013 by Disney Hyperion (first published June 1st 2013)
Format read: Physical arc, courtesy of publisher
This was a book that I had been dying to read, ever since I finished reading Code Name Verity, and I had heard that Elizabeth Wein was planning a companion novel.
This was also a book that I knew would most likely be good based on the sheer skill and talented that Wein had shown in Verity, but I was still nervous. I not only wanted the book to be enjoyable for me, but I also wanted Wein to be able to replicate the same success that she had with Verity.
Fortunately, Rose Under Fire definitely lives up to the hype. Wein has absolutely outdone herself with the story of Rose Justice, an American on the wrong side of enemy lines, struggling to survive to tell the world.
Synopsis (via Goodreads)
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.
Things that worked:
Because the comparisons will be unavoidable, let me just say first and foremost: Rose Justice is not Julie Beaufort-Stuart a.k.a. Verity of Code Name Verity fame.
She’s less confident, more thoughtful, and also more prone to dwell on things that are out of her control. However, this does not make Rose any less of a magnificent character.
Rose is remarkable in her own right, willingly leaving her idyllic farm life in Pennsylvania, to serve with her British comrades on the warfront. She doesn’t know just how difficult a life she’s about to take on, but she willing takes on challenges and obstacles that she knows she doesn’t have the experience to tackle, because it’s a necessity. She’s also willing to continue to see beauty and goodness in the world around her, despite the horrors that she’s forced to endure as she’s in the camp.
Rose is a character that everyone will root for, cry for and want to befriend, just as everyone wanted to befriend Maddie and Julie. I feel like educators and parents can not only use Rose as a way of discussing a difficult point in history, but to really reinforce the idea that there are extraordinary people - both fictional and real – who have triumphed in the face of adversity.
* The reappearance of old and familiar places
Without giving any spoilers away, some old and familiar faces reappear throughout Rose Under Fire.
Not only does it give readers that sense of continuity between the two books – which I personally loved – it also humanizes the idea of war and tragedy. The idea that people we know from the previous book, can find themselves in unusual and unexpected places because of the uncertainties of war, is a strong one.
Wein uses the unique plotting device of having the story jump backwards and forwards between the present and the past.
After several introductory chapters in the present, the book jumps forward in time, to a point where the reader knows Rose has gone missing and the reader waits with the other characters to find found what’s happened.
But even after Rose returns, Wein takes the time and the effort to slowly unfold the story of how she was captured and taken into Ravensburck, pairing it with her recovery in the present. Her dialogue, descriptions and even Rose’s internal thought process throughout recovery are all starkly beautiful, with much of the same tone that readers likely experienced when reading Code Name Verity.
* The ending
The ending is painfully realistic. It’s not what readers likely want for Rose, but it’s undoubtedly truer to life, and for anyone who’s been in her position. It’s perfect for the book and a fitting conclusion.
Things that didn't work:
Nothing. The only thing I did have issue with, was how many tissues I ended up using while reading. Be prepared – get yourself a new box before you begin reading, because you will need it.
Things to consider:
I would encourage educators and parents to read these sections with their students or children – especially if they’re younger – and possibly come up with questions related to these passages.
Wein has written something that is beautifully stark in its portrayal of one of the most difficult periods in world history, and I would encourage readers to take advantage of the fact by talking about what she’s written.
At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I strongly believe that it’s books like Wein’s that are the equivalent of literary gifts to the world, with their ability to encourage thought and open dialogue between those who may not have considered that they had anything in common before.
It’s also one of those rare books that come along, which you want to give to everyone you know, because you want them to experience the same beauty that you’ve experienced. You want them to feel what you’ve felt, because you know that they’ll finish the book with a slightly more changed and richer mindset on life.
I recommend this book for everyone, wholeheartedly and unreservedly.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of Rose Under Fire from Disney-Hyperion, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!