Title: Rose Under Fire
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Genre: War Novel, Young Adult
Publisher: Electric Monkey (3rd June 2013)
TELL THE WORLD
I can write again. Oh God! All those months of not being able to write! Of not being allowed to write. Knowing I’d be shot if I were caught. It seems like I have been a prisoner for so long.
Rose Justice is a young American ATA pilot, delivering planes and taxiing pilots for the RAF in the UK during the summer of 1944. A budding poet who feels vividly alive while flying, she is forced to confront the hidden atrocities of war – and the most fearsome.
An unforgettable journey from innocence to experience from the author of the best-selling Carnegie Award shortlisted Code Name Verity.
Rating: **** (4 stars)
ROSE UNDER FIRE is the companion novel to the fantastic CODE NAME VERITY (review). It tells the story of eighteen-year-old Rose Justice an American pilot and member of the Air Transport Auxiliary – or ATA. She has only recently arrived in Britain and is horrified by the devastation she finds and the reality of war.
I have somewhat mixed feelings about certain aspects of this novel which is mainly why it does not have the five stars that I gave CODE NAME VERITY. I don’t really like the Rose who appears in the first third of the novel. I found her rather arrogant, and whilst it is understandable that she behaves as she does it really didn’t endear her to me. I think Wein also stretches the truth a little in this book in terms of the planes Rose is allowed to fly and where she was allowed to fly. However, there is a major plot reason for doing so but it still irks me a little. Rose really grows through ROSE UNDER FIRE, and I really admire the young woman she becomes. Wein does a good job capturing and explaining these changes in Rose without really seeming to.
One of the major themes in ROSE UNDER FIRE is the importance and power of friendship. In both CODE NAME VERITY and ROSE UNDER FIRE Wein explores bonds between women, and I think it really worked in this book. I really liked the way Wein explored Rose’s friendships, and how different they all were due to the circumstances under which they were formed. Arguably some weren’t exactly friendships due to the circumstances, but there was a really strong bond between Rose and the other character. The horror and the brutality of war are also a major theme in this book, and sometimes that isn’t always comfortable but Wein manages to make it shocking without being graphic. The last two-thirds of the book focuses on this in particular, as well as learning to heal. I don’t want to go into too much detail here in case I spoil the book but I wanted to say that the narrative is stark and Wein does a good job in capturing Rose’s feelings and describing the scenes.
ROSE UNDER FIRE is well worth a read if you are a fan of fictionalised war literature or not. It captures a horrific time in human history, and lays it on the page so that we too know the “truth”. I realise it’s a tad ironic to say that a fiction book holds truth, but in a way I think it does. Reading this book means that we don’t forget or gloss over what happened, and I think that’s sorely needed. So go on, give this book a try or its companion novel CODE NAME VERITY. Or better yet, read both. Hopefully they will inspire you to learn the truth behind the fiction.