Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

After reading Code Name Verity (previously reviewed by Dana) I immediately got on the waiting list to read the sequel/companion novel Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. Rose Under Fire is about a girl named Rose Justice, an American Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) pilot who is friends with Maddie Brodatt, one of the main characters in the first book, has a boyfriend who is constantly proposing to her, and is an amateur poet. Her life drastically changes when she accidentally flies into German territory one night and is captured by Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, a concentration camp.

She is mislabeled as French Political Prisoner 51498, and endures six months in Ravensbrück, befriending and surviving with the “Rabbits”. The Rabbits were a group of girls who had horrific experiements done to their legs; some had chunks of bones removed, some had muscles peeled away, and some were purposefully infected with various diseases such as gangrene to see how the infections reacted. The reason given for this torture was that it helped German doctors learn to treat their wounded soldiers by having live test subjects.

Rose tells the stories of these girls, they helped each other survive, some sacrificing themselves for the greater good. All throughout the story, which is told in the form of Rose’s journal entries, she keeps spirits up by reciting poems.

Just like Code Name Verity, I couldn’t put it down. The descriptions of the pain and suffering were just enough that you understood the pain, but it wasn’t unnecessarily graphic. If you like historical fiction, are interested in WWII, or just want to read a really gripping story, I recommend both Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire.

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