I love novels in verse, but I rarely read historical fiction, so I was interested to see how those two things combined when I picked up White Rose by Kip Wilson. This novel is the based on the true story of Sophie Scholl, a college student living in Nazi-era Germany who joins the White Rose resistance movement, distributing leaflets speaking out against the regime. The book switches between Sophie being interrogated after her arrest, and the years leading up to that moment. I’m not sure if flipping between timeframes was supposed to increase tension, assuming you don’t know the true ending of the book, but it did not work for me. I really wanted want to know how Sophie became motivated to act, and I feel like the character growth and progression was really lost by only having these snippets and having some of the oldest moments at the very end of the book (especially when it came to her brother, Hans).
While I love the style of writing novels in verse, the issue with White Rose as historical fiction is that the format lends itself really well to internal dialogue, such as Sophie’s thoughts while she is in prison. It doesn’t work so well when it comes to really creating a setting, which meant the story lacked as much context as I would have liked. There are also a few snippets from random other characters, like the judge, which just felt a little odd. Despite these issues, I appreciated that Wilson retold such an important story about an incredibly brave girl. I really appreciated Sophie’s voice and as much as I can’t imagine being in that situation, her thoughts came across as authentic and the emotions were captured well. While I definitely wanted a little more from White Rose, I’m not deterred from potentially picking up another book by Wilson in the future, but I’ll be a little more skeptical of historical fiction in verse next time.