Story of an 18-year old American pilot Rose Justice who delivers planes to the Allied efforts in the war against Nazi Germany. She gets caught by the Nazis during a routine delivery when she chased down a ‘flying bomb’ and travels way off course into Nazi territory. The majority of the story deals with her experiences in a women’s concentration camp in Ravensbruck, the people she meets there and her eventual escape.
The novel highlighted a group of prisoners called the ‘rabbits’, women who were chosen as subjects for medical experiments in war trauma. These women were obviously unwilling participants, having injuries inflicted on their bodies (primarily legs) to see how the body reacted with different treatments in a real-life field scenario, and often extracted muscle and tissue from the said body parts as part of the experiments. These surgeries leave the subjects maimed, and they were called ‘rabbits’ akin to real rabbits in science experiments.
Rose eventually escapes Ravensbruck (stealing a plane along the way and flying into Belgium and safety with two of her fellow inmates), and lives on to participate in the Nazi trials in Nuremberg.
Like Code Name Verity, Wein depicts the perspective of war from a captive’s perspective, showing the horror of the victims of war. Also like Code Name Verity, I couldn’t help but feel so strongly for all the characters in the story. The story was punctuated with poems by Rose (she’s an amateur poet) which was at once tender yet brutally honest.
There are bits here that ties into Code Name Verity – Maddie makes an appearance, continuing her story after Julie’s death and her new life as wife to Julie’s brother Jamie.
This was a fantastic book that made me teary-eyed. Only one other book managed that. Wonderful, and highly recommended.