White Rose is the fictionalized story of historical figure Sophie Scholl, a student at the University of Munich killed for her rebellion against the Nazis.
Sophie sees her world changing drastically as Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich seize power. Desperate to do something to stop the tide of terror overtaking the country--and then the world--Sophie feels impotent, saying "the war booms/ on while I sit/ here helpless, unable/ to do anything to/ stop it." Her passion is clear as she joins her brother, Hans, in passing out anti-Nazi leaflets at the university: "guilt washes over me/ over what I've done/ and haven't done... I for one refuse/ to be guilty/ going forward." Sophie's part in the movement grows as she helps to create and distribute the leaflets, until she is eventually arrested. Even as Sophie goes to trial with Hans and is sentenced to death, she still has hope "that the world will see/ and the world will know/ and the world/ will/ make/ them/ stop."
Wilson's debut YA novel-in-verse is told in Sophie's lyrical first-person narration and skillfully shifts between Sophie's past and her present in prison as she counts down her days. Sophie's life didn't "have a happy ending," but Wilson writes her story with poignancy and grace: "I aim to become/ not only the most/ me/ but the best/ me/ I can," Sophie says as she forges her own path that eventually leads to the White Rose resistance group. Readers are sure to see the relevancy to current events and will likely reflect on how, if one young woman can make an impact during a time of war, they, too, might make an impact of their own. --Clarissa Hadge, bookstore manager, Trident Booksellers & Cafe, Boston, Mass.