White Rose

Book review by
Lucinda Dyer, Common Sense Media
White Rose Book Poster Image
Intense, inspiring story of students who defied the Nazis.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Sophie's voice offers seldom-seen personal perspective (that of non-Jewish teen and young woman) on many pivotal events in Nazi Germany: Kristallnacht, the deportation of Jews, the Nuremberg Rally, the Battle of Stalingrad. A glossary adefines German words used throughout; Selected Sources section offers books, films, websites about Sophie and White Rose available in English, German. A dramatis personae gives very brief updates on what became of major characters (White Rose members, Sophie's family and friends, her Gestapo interrogator, the judge at her trial).

Positive Messages

Even young voices can have a powerful impact when they speak out against injustice.

Positive Role Models & Representations

At a time when few people in Germany dared speak out against Hitler, a group of university students courageously stepped forward. Even knowing the Gestapo was aggressively hunting members of White Rose didn't stop them from continuing to print and distribute even more leaflets.

Violence

No single incident is vividly described, but violence, death are a constant. A friend tells Sophie he saw "pits heaped high with layers of Jewish bodies." Sophie writes of a synagogue being burned, people being beaten during Kristallnacht, of the horror of the German defeat at Stalingrad, of learning that Nazis are killing disabled children. It's stated that a character was executed by guillotine.

Sex

A sexual relationship between Sophie and Fritz is alluded to.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Sophie and her university friends sometimes drink wine; one friend smokes a pipe. One evening, members of White Rose take Pervitin, a drug given to soldiers at the front to keep them awake, so they can work through the night assembling thousands of leaflets. (It's not stated in the book, but Pervitin was methamphetamine.)

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kip Wilson's White Rose is based on the true story of a student-led anti-Hitler resistance movement called White Rose, which printed and distributed thousands of leaflets that exposed and denounced Nazi atrocities and called for active resistance to the regime. Written in free verse in the voice of Sophie Scholl, a 21-year-old leader of White Rose, the novel begins in February 1943 as Sophie is being interrogated by the Gestapo. She's been arrested with her brother, Hans, after they were seen distributing leaflets at their university. The story moves back and forth in time between chapters titled "The End" (her interrogation, trial, and sentencing) and "Before" (her teen years in a family that were early opponents of Hitler; her romance with Fritz, a young German officer; time spent in a labor camp to earn admittance to university; and her secret and incredibly dangerous work with White Rose). Violence and death are a constant in the world of Sophie, her friends, and family, although no single incident is graphically described. A friend tells Sophie he saw "pits heaped high with layers of Jewish bodies." Sophie writes of a synagogue being burned and people being beaten during Kristallnacht, and of learning that the Nazis are killing disabled children. It's stated that a character was executed by guillotine. 

Wondering if White Rose is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 13 years old Written byPiedPiper January 10, 2020

Good story, bad verse writing

Good story, but the writing was disappointing...
Teen, 13 years old Written byDream_Big July 12, 2019

Amazing Role Models

Sophie Scholl is a strong female who fights for justice and sacrifices herself for it. Her story is very empowering. The reason I took off a star is because it... Continue reading

What's the story?

WHITE ROSE begins almost at the story's end. Sophie Scholl, one of the leaders of White Rose, a student-led anti-Nazi resistance movement, and her brother, Hans, have been arrested for distributing leaflets calling on Germans to rise up against their government. As she's being interrogated by the Gestapo and pressured (but not tortured) to name other members of White Rose, Sophie looks back on her life before her arrest: meeting a young army officer named Fritz when she's just 17, and beginning a relationship with him; her rising anger as she watches evil spread throughout her country and her determination to do what she can to stop it; the months she was forced to spend at a government labor camp before she could be allowed to study at a university; constantly fearing that Fritz and other young men she knows will be killed in battle. In 1942, she begins studying at the University of Munich and meets the group of friends with whom she'll form White Rose. On February 18, 1943, while leaving leaflets around their university, she and Hans are seen by a janitor and reported to the Gestapo. At her trial, Sophie is unrepentant and defiant. On February 22, she and Hans are found guilty of treason.  

Is it any good?

This intense, inspiring novel in verse traces coming of age during the Third Reich as seen through the eyes of a courageous young woman who became a hero of German resistance. However, it's sometimes unclear in White Rose what's fact and when the author is writing in a character's voice. In the author's note, Wilson writes that she studied a collection of letters to and from Sophie, Hans, and Fritz, the leaflets themselves, and paperwork from Sophie's interrogation and trial. It seems safe to assume that if the typeface changes whenever a letter is included in the text, that this is an actual letter. But when a character's words are in italics, were they actually said by Sophie, her interrogator, or the judge at her trial? Some words, particularly those from her trial, seem to be fact, while others seem to be in italics only for emphasis.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the choice Sophie made in White Rose to speak out against Hitler and the Nazis. At a time when almost everyone was too frightened to say or do anything against the government, what do you think gave Sophie and her friends the courage to actively resist the Nazi regime?

  • Do you think a student-led movement could right an injustice in today's world? If you and your friends could join a resistance movement, what would it be? Instead of leaflets, how would you spread the word and gain followers?

  • Would you betray your friends if it meant saving your own life?

Book details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love history and World War II stories

Our editors recommend

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate