Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Code Name Verity or better yet The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and get ready to be amazed by how great Young Adult literature can be. I absolutely loved Code Name Verity, so I could not wait to get my bookish paws on Wein's 2nd in her saga of female WWII air transport auxiliary (ATA) pilots.
Where Code Name Verity explored (among other things) the cruelty of the Gestapo in WWII, Rose Under Fire dives into the atrocities of concentration camps. It opens on American-as-apple-pie Rose generally enjoying her time serving the war effort as a transport pilot (ferrying people and planes to UK destinations, no air combat required), even though a fellow female pilot fatally crashed her plane and bombs are constantly falling on England. Her British uncle pulled some strings for her to get her spot, so you won't be surprised when he pulls strings AGAIN to have her fly him to Paris. The civilian pilots of the ATA—especially the female ones—were as a rule not allowed to fly into Europe proper, but that uncle makes it happen and that's the last we hear of Rose for a while. The letters from her friends and family follow, sharing how little is known about Rose's disappearance as she flew her plane back to England. Is Rose dead? Alive? And if she is alive, where is she? As months pass in the series of letters, no one knows anything and it is endlessly heartbreaking. All this happens within the first quarter of the book and I in no way plan to spoil the rest of it for you.
I started the story, which has one pivotal character in common with Code Name Verity, thinking to myself "Don't let [Character] lose another friend!" and considering how unfair it would be for her to have two friends fall in this horrible, bloody war. The second after I thought those thinks, I knew what was going to happen and felt silly for hoping. Because war isn't fair and it's typified by loss and Wein doesn't gloss over the atrocities that have been discussed and documented. I've read a lot of WWII fiction and I am always beyond disturbed to think that these stories, while fictionalized, are NOT exaggerations. If you like WWII fiction as much as I do, this (as well as the books I mentioned in the first paragraph!!) are must reads!
-Abby, Reference Librarian