I love reading books in diary form. They feel so intimate. They also remind of my early college years when I was beyond homesick and the one thing that would turn a horrible day into a fantastic one would be receiving a letter from my best friend in the mail. (Yes, this was during the dark ages of the pre-internet era.) I loved that it took time and effort to write them and we were always so creative with our letters – they were never just about the who, what, and when of our lives. Many were filled with drawings or little stories that I treasure to this day.
This is one reason I chose to participate for the second year in the Indextrious Reader’s Postal Reading Challenge. The goal was to read and review books with a postal theme. I fell way short of my goal of four books – although I do have several in my massive TBR pile. (If only that counted.) I still wanted to participate and show my solidarity for this lovely event by at least posting one review in the final month. So here is my epistolary fiction selection for the year. I hope you enjoy it and that it encourages you to read more books like it.
ROSE UNDER FIRE written by Elizabeth Wein
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: September, 2013
Genres: Historical Fiction, YA
Rose Justice is a young pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War. On her way back from a semi-secret flight in the waning days of the war, Rose is captured by the Germans and ends up in Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi women’s concentration camp. There, she meets an unforgettable group of women, including a once glamorous and celebrated French detective novelist whose Jewish husband and three young sons have been killed; a resilient young girl who was a human guinea pig for Nazi doctors trying to learn how to treat German war wounds; and a Nachthexen, or Night Witch, a female fighter pilot and military ace for the Soviet air force. These damaged women must bond together to help each other survive.
This is the companion novel to CODE NAME VERITY, which I read last year and loved so, so much. I really enjoyed this story, too, but it didn’t hold quite the intensity and impact that Verity did. Some of the main characters from Verity make guest appearances in this book and I found myself wanting to spend more time with them and I was always sad when they left the stage, as it were. I think that says more about how powerful the first book was than anything else. Once I got into the thick of Rosie’s story, I was completely overtaken by her story. And there was a great deal to love about it. This book is chock full of strong female characters facing dire situations during war time and surviving on their own wits, just like its predecessor.
Told in a similar diary style as Verity, this book injects the reader straight into the heart of the main character’s deepest thoughts and fears, and takes the reader through the horrific aftermath of surviving the unsurvivable and how one adjusts back to real life. How you begin to live again after leaving so many others behind. Rosie recants her tale in a Paris hotel where she’s afraid of even the maid’s light intrusions. She spends days writing down her nightmarish experiences so she won’t forget and so she can get through it. In doing so, she take us through the worst months of her life where in a place devoid of hope and life, she found both, and friendship as well. Just like its companion book, this is such a well-written story that it will leave you thinking about its characters long after you have put it down. It is well worth the read.
Learn more about Elizabeth Wein here.
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