Front Lines (Solider Girl, #1) by Michael Grant
Published on January 26th, 2016
Genres: Fiction, Coming of Age, Young Adult, Diverse, Historical Fiction
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Perfect for fans of The Book Thief and Code Name Verity, New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant unleashes an epic, genre-bending, and transformative new series that reimagines World War II with girl soldiers fighting on the front lines.
World War II, 1942. A court decision makes women subject to the draft and eligible for service. The unproven American army is going up against the greatest fighting force ever assembled, the armed forces of Nazi Germany.
Three girls sign up to fight. Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman are average girls, girls with dreams and aspirations, at the start of their lives, at the start of their loves. Each has her own reasons for volunteering: Rio fights to honor her sister; Frangie needs money for her family; Rainy wants to kill Germans. For the first time they leave behind their homes and families—to go to war.
These three daring young women will play their parts in the war to defeat evil and save the human race. As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, they will discover the roles that define them on the front lines. They will fight the greatest war the world has ever known.
Raw. Challenging. Emotional. These are just a few adjectives with which I could describe Michael Grant’s newest book, Front Lines. This compelling alternative history of WWII follows three girls as they navigate their time in the US Army. Rio, Frangie, and Rainy all face obstacles as their stories weave in and around one another’s in a spectacular show of storytelling.
This is a book about war and so much more. When the US Army decrees that women not only can enlist, but also be drafted, you get to see soldiers from a different perspective. Grant’s writing stays true to the tone and sensibilities of the 1940’s, there’s the obvious resistance to women serving in the armed forces, but there’s a layer of firmly developed equality that Grant’s characters execute in a flawless dance. This is book that transports you to another time, another war, all while being able to hold it up as a reflection of our present march towards equality.
The longer I sit with the themes of this book, the more I see the threads binding them together. These connections between hate, injustice, love, fear, growing-up, & returning home aren’t obvious, but they are there, and I’m stunned at just how masterful Grant’s perception of war and all its complexities are woven together.
Frangie faces racism and sexism as she enters the army as a black medic, one she reminds readers, are in short supply. Her story is one of segregation in a war where death doesn’t segregate anyone. The living and dead are all pulled in and sucked under. Watching the events unfold through her eyes was hard, and heartbreaking, but also one of my favorite storylines throughout, as it brought to light important and often-overlooked aspects of WWII. This book does not sugarcoat the atrocities of either side, and Americans poor treatment of POC is not downplayed to save face. Grant does not shy away from the ugly actions of Americans against Americans, but brings his readers face-to-face with truths that need to be faced.
The prose in this book is in a class above the rest. The writing style lends itself well to the battles and action the three heroines face. Grant’s writing is rich in imagery, creating many landscapes that feel effortless to the reader. In addition to his colorful descriptions, Grant is a purposeful writing and there are no wasted words. Each character faces a different role and emotion during battle, and thanks to the prose, it’s clear that these aren’t just stock characters acting out the plot.
One thing I appreciated about Front Lines is that it doesn’t set out to be a book about girls changing the world. It’s not a feminist anthem, rather a good, hard look at some of our present dilemmas through a historical lens. That distance offers a third-party perspective on how women are treated in varying circumstances. As a female reader it was both empowering and frustrating to feel so connected with this alternative history. The detailed account of war was gut wrenching enough, but add all of these moral layers and unanswerable questions, this book becomes exquisite in its brutal honesty. Without any hesitation, this book is a five-star read and I cannot wait for the next installment.
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