Genre: YA historical fiction
Length: 360 pages
Setting: England and Germany, 1944
Interest: It’s a companion book to Code Name Verity that I read last year and loved. A friend reminded me of the book and I decided to read it now, before I forgot about it again.
Summary: Rose Justice is an American ATA pilot alongside Maddie, who we met in Code Name Verity. Her uncle pulls some strings and gets her over to France. In the course of tipping a V-1 rocket off course, she gets captured by Germans and sent to Ravensbruck. The Germans don’t quite know what to do with a female, American pilot, so she gets placed into a group of French resistance women. Rose starts out in the skilled labor section of the camp, but she stops working when she realizes she’s making fuses for V-1 rockets. She’s given two times 25 lashes and sent back to the main camp. There, she’s adopted by the Polish Rabbits (a group of Polish girls that were used for medical experiments). Everyone works to stay alive and somehow tell the world what’s happening in the camp. Rose is able to escape, along with two others. Once free, she has a hard time readjusting to normal life. She also has a hard time talking about what happened at Ravensbruck.
Final thoughts: This is a very powerful book and even darker than Code Name Verity. Again, I’m not sure why it’s considered YA, but it’s definitely for the older teens. Since it’s set in a concentration camp, it covers a lot of tough subjects – torture, death, evil people, and how to stay alive in such a horrible situation. You see people who banded together to keep a community strong, and people who sunk to the depths of despair and just looking out for oneself. There’s also a reminder that women played more of a role in the war than you typically hear about in history books (which is true for most wars, I think). This book would be a great introduction to WWII and the evils the Nazis perpetrated for an older teen.
An interesting component of the book is poetry. Rose used poetry, both what she wrote and what she had memorized in school, to express emotions that were otherwise difficult to put into words. The poems also help keep her alive since she uses them as a currency to get more food from the intellectually-starved inmates of Ravensbruck.
Maddie is the character that makes this book a companion to Code Name Verity. The book really isn’t about Maddie, so it’s not a sequel, but the events in this book obviously follow those in Code Name Verity. If you’re interested in the books (and you should be because they’re really good), you should start with that one.
Title comes from: Rose was the main character and she came under fire when she was captured.
Reading challenges fulfilled: 29/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge
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