This was one of those books that I had as an egalley for awhile and even though I was excited to read it I was also really, really nervous. Code Name Verity had basically ruined my life for a couple of days. I’d cried and sobbed and cursed at the world for being unfair and awful.
So for months I didn’t read Rose Under Fire because I didn’t know how to emotionally prepare myself for it. Despite the fact that a friend who had already read both said it wasn’t as bad as Code Name Verity1 and instead of sobbing and wanting to give up on life, Rose Under Fire only made her stress eat an entire bag of Doritos.
But still. I just kept putting it off. Until I was on a plane, heading to San Diego for Comic Con. I finished the light, fun, happy book I was reading and thought…Rose Under Fire. Let’s do this.
While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?
Stupidest decision of my life. In Code Name Verity I didn’t cry until the end, where I became a sobbing mess of disgustingness because it’s more of a mystery novel that ends in horribleness. Rose Under Fire isn’t like that. Very near to the beginning you know exactly how it ends. Rose Under Fire is more of a look into the human spirit and the power of friendship among women under the most horrible of circumstances.
And instead of having one big cry at the end, I basically cried slowly all throughout. While at Comic Con. Mostly while standing in line for things, surrounded by people. Yep. It was awesome.
I have definitely learned a lot about Concentration Camps while in school, or at least I thought I had, but this book while being gripping and exciting, was also hugely educational about this most horrific part about World War II. It’s so hard for me in this age of cell phones and social media, to understand that this hugely wrong thing was going on and no one knew about it. There’s a part near the beginning where someone believes that Concentration Camps are made up as propaganda against the Germans. This blew my mind. It’s such a big part of the history now that I couldn’t wrap my head around people not knowing or not believing.
Though it is so horrific that I can understand why people wouldn’t believe it.
And then we get to see the camp, see the women in the camp and what it does to them. I came to respect Rose so much because she experiences some truly awful things and is scared all of the time but is still fighting the war and never thinks that she has it the worst. Or that any of them do. There’s never an ounce of self-pity amongst any of these women. There’s anger and despair and the need to just give up, but never self-pity. As much as I didn’t like all of the women all of the time I always respected them.
The thing that hit me the hardest in this book was Rose and her singing. Sometimes she would write poetry, or recite poetry and it made horrible things into art and was very well done, but her singing is what always made me cry. One song in particular because she mentions singing in it Girl Scouts. It’s a song we still sing today called Make New Friends. I sing it almsot weekly with five and six-year-old girls and to see in that context and to know the effect it had on someone’s life, even a fictional someone, always affected me.
Again, while standing in crowds of thousands of people, crying into my Kobo. Worst decision of my life. But still, I’m very glad I found the time when I was prepared to read this book because it was amazing.