Elizabeth Wein knows how to rip out my heart and leave it on the floor when it comes to following her protagonists. Most certainly with respect to my first read with her in "Code Name Verity", but also here in "Rose Under Fire."
"Rose Under Fire" is a follow-up novel to "Code Name Verity" about a group of female pilots operating during WWII. The story in this focuses on a young American pilot named Rose Justice, who comes into the war on the tail end as America enters the conflict. She's a fun soul to know, and can not only cite poetry from memory, but also writes poems of her own. She camps out in France for a time, but upon crossing German territory, she ends up captured by troops and sent to a concentration camp for six months. But it's a brutal six months in which she has to survive and live through the unspeakable. Her loved ones believe her to be dead, but Rose keeps the narrative alive through her journals, up until she finds a way to freedom.
My heart ached for Rose throughout this novel - I loved her sharp narrative and the camaraderie with those she befriends. While the story itself is fiction, there are many notes of survivorship and detail to the time period and place that I really appreciated here. Wein skillfully crafts Rose's perspective as a teenager, but matured and scarred through the nature of her experiences. It's certainly among my favorite novels, not just for its respective thematic, but the way impacted me. Highly recommended.
Overall score: 4.5/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Disney-Hyperion.