Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Under FireI absolutely LOVED Code Name Verity, so I had a feeling that I would enjoy this book too.  Enjoy feels like a wrong word to use, though, considering all the terrible things that happen.  The story is narrated by young Rose Justice, an American ATA pilot who got lost, landed in the wrong airfield, and ended up a Nazi prisoner in the Ravensbrück concentration camp.  Though there was so much more to the Holocaust than Rose ever could have seen or experienced in her abbreviated stay in the one small portion of that one particular women’s camp, the horrors still added up rather quickly.  I was especially sickened to hear the details behind the medical experiments that were done on the “Ravensbrück Rabbits.”  I think readers who haven’t yet learned about the Nazi doctors and the Nuremburg Trials may find these details especially disturbing, since I found it hard to listen to even though I already knew a lot of what had been done.  Despite the darkness she revealed, though, I found it heartening that Wein managed to shine a spotlight on the friendship, generosity, and hope that helped so many people survive against the odds.

It’s evident that Elizabeth Wein was very thorough in her research, and the author’s note at the end of the story was a lovely added bonus.  I especially liked hearing about how Wein’s stay at European Summer School at the Ravensbrück Memorial site affected her.  (You can read journal entries about this stay on her website — http://www.elizabethwein.com/my-visit-ravensbr%C3%BCck-august-2012.)  There were only two things that I honestly didn’t like about listening to the audiobook.  One was that I had to pull over to cry a couple of times.  (That happened with Code Name Verity, too, so I came into the story expecting it would happen again.)  The other was when the narrator jarred me out of the story by saying “skuh-lee-tle” as she described the survivors of the concentration camps.  I re-played that sentence probably 4 or 5 times before I realized she had mispronounced the word “skeletal”…  All of Wein’s tireless research to get the story right, and everyone involved in the audiobook production missed this egregious mispronunciation — and not just once, but twice!  /sigh

Happy Reading!

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