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Literature / Rose Under Fire

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"Hope is the most treacherous thing in the world. It lifts you and lets you plummet. But as long as you're being lifted you don't worry about plummeting."

Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein, is a 2013 young adult historical novel set in Ravensbrück, a women’s concentration camp, during World War II. Rose Justice, an American pilot for the British Air Transport Auxiliary, gets lost while flying from Paris to England and is captured by the Germans. She is sent to Ravensbrück, where she experiences unimaginable horrors and befriends the “Rabbits,” a group of Polish women who were subject to medical experimentation by the Nazis.

This book is a companion novel to Code Name Verity.


Rose Under Fire contains examples of:

  • Ace Pilot: Irina has eleven kills, making her a double ace.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Rose in the ATA, Róża at Ravensbrück.
  • Bomb Disposal: Early in the book Rose comes across a small boy holding an unexploded bomb fuse and takes it away from him. She then throws it far away from both of them, where it goes off.
  • Cunning Linguist: Róża speaks six languages, making her much better at communicating with other prisoners than Rose is.
  • Defiant Captive: The prisoners of Ravensbrück hide the Rabbits when they hear the guards are going to kill them. Irina and Róża both constantly badmouth their captors and work up escape plans.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: The characters are sometimes denied their morning coffee as a punishment, but they joke about it because it wasn't real coffee and they are all starving anyway.
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  • Family of Choice: Róża, Lisette, Karolina, and Irina are Rose's "Camp Family."
  • For Science!: The doctors at Ravensbrück claim that they are researching ways to cure battle wounds, but they are really researching ways to kill people.
  • Girls Behind Bars: Most of the novel is set in a women's concentration camp.
  • Great Escape: Rose's escape from Ravensbrück.
  • Hellhole Prison: The prisoners at Ravensbrück don't get enough food, are beaten and tortured, and may face execution at any time.
  • Hero of Another Story: Maddie is a minor character in this book, but she is one of the main characters of Code Name Verity.
    • Anna Engel could probably have a whole book devoted to her story.
  • Hiding the Handicap: The Rabbits are supposed to be executed, so they have to come up with ways to conceal their limps when the guards are watching.
  • The Holocaust: Since the novel is set in a concentration camp, it depicts The Holocaust in great detail.
  • Language Barrier: The women in Ravensbrück come from all over Europe (and the US), making this a common occurrence.
  • Mad Doctor: The doctors of Ravensbrück experiment on the Rabbits, supposedly in the name of science but Rose wonders if it was instead For the Evulz.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted, since Rose and Róża have the same name in different languages.
  • Persecuted Intellectuals: Many of the women in Block 32 with Rose had been writers, professors, or students. Also Truth in Television during The Holocaust.
  • Playing with Syringes: The Rabbits were subject to horrific experimentation by the Nazis.
  • Prison Riot: The Rabbits' rebellion.
  • La Résistance: Róża, Karolina, and Elodie were all members.
  • Scrapbook Story: Most of the novel is written as Rose's journal, but the novel also contains letters written by various characters, and the last section is an article that Rose intends to publish.
  • The Scrounger: Elodie is able to procure socks, a toothbrush, sanitary pads, and many other things for Rose and her friends.
  • Shameful Strip: All the prisoners experience this when they first enter Ravensbrück.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Rose is beaten as punishment for refusing to work.
  • Team Mom: Lisette.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: The SS were in charge of Ravensbrück.
  • The Tragic Rose: Rose and Róża both have tragic experiences in Ravensbrück.
    • This trope is also explored in Rose's poem "The Subtle Briar."
  • Traumatic Haircut: Rose hates that her head is shaved when she enters Ravensbrück.
  • Wartime Wedding: Maddie and Jamie have the second type of Wartime Wedding.
  • You Are Number 6: Rose is French Political Prisoner 51498.

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