20 September 2013

Fly Girl

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (Disney-Hyperion hardcover, 10 September 2013).

About ten months ago, I reviewed a book called Code Name Verity on this blog.  I was completely and utterly mesmerized by it, and I feel the same way about its companion novel Rose Under Fire.  (Rose is not exactly a sequel, and is easily comprehensible without reading Verity, but many of the characters and incidents in this book are more easily understood if it has been read.)

The events of this book begin shortly after the those of Code Name Verity.   Rose Justice, the protagonist of this book is, like Verity's Maddie, a pilot.  Unlike Maddie and Julie, though, Rose is an American.  Her family owns an airfield in  Pennsylvania, and her Uncle Roger (who is with the British government) manages to get her a position ferrying airplanes for the ATA (Air Transport Authority).

As with Verity, this story is written in diary form, this time from Rose's point of view.  Thanks, once again, to her uncle's influence, she gets a coveted gig flying a plane to transporting a group of VIPs to France.  On her return flight, however, there's a problem and she eventually ends up in a German women's "work camp" (which seemed to me to be a euphemism for "concentration camp"). 

She befriends a group of women called the Rabbits, young women, mostly Polish, who have had experimental surgery performed on them, ostensibly for the purpose of finding more efficient ways to heal German soldiers' war wounds.  As a result, these women are crippled in many different ways, but are expected to do the same sort of work as the others.

As one might expect, conditions for the prisoners are horrific.  Ms. Wein's research on the subject was extensive (see her website), and her descriptions are detailed and disturbing.  The women cope by telling stories and, in Rose's case,sharing poetry she's created in her head (they have no means of writing thing down).

Like Verity, Rose's story is difficult to read, and though gripping, may require the reader to set it aside for a time in order to absorb the intensity.  For this reason, despite its being marketed as a teen novel, I'd recommend it for only the most mature of young people under  (or over!) the age of fifteen.  

Many thanks to Disney-Hyperion and NetGalley for the digital review copy.

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