Kip Wilson’s debut young adult novel, White Rose, was the first book acquired by Kwame Alexander’s new imprint at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which aims to offer a greater diversity of voices in books for young people. Fittingly, White Rose is all about voices.
Based on a true story, this novel-in-verse gives voice to German teen Sophie Scholl and her fellow members of the White Rose movement. The group spoke out against Hitler and the rise of the Nazis by distributing leaflets that encouraged Germans to rise up and join their resistance. But Sophie and her brother, Hans, were not successful in their mission, and after they were caught passing out leaflets at Munich University, they were arrested, interrogated and imprisoned.
In Wilson’s fictionalized account, Sophie is the narrator, and the story is largely hers, with an occasional letter from Hans and voices of a few other characters—like Robert Mohr, the Gestapo interrogator; Jakob Schmid, the janitor at the university who caught the Scholls and turned them in; Else Gebel, another prisoner; and Roland Freisler, the judge. The innovative narrative structure begins at “The End” in 1943, with Sophie at the Gestapo headquarters, and then the story shifts back to 1935, when Sophie was 14. The intervening years trace Sophie’s life and gradual political awakening. By writing in verse and exploring several secondary characters, Wilson offers a compelling work that will be perfect for the reader’s theater exercises in English or history classrooms, and it pairs nicely with Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s Hitler Youth and Russell Freedman’s We Will Not Be Silent.