Title: Front Lines
Author: Michael Grant
Series: Solider Girl
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Published: January 26, 2016
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5 out of 5)
The summary of Front Lines from Goodreads:
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.
I’m going to argue a bit about saying this book is perfect for The Book Thief fans because, in my opinion, they are vastly different books. They both deal with World War II, but that’s about where the similarities end for me. I can’t speak about Code Name Verity, though, because I haven’t read it yet. That said, Front Lines was an engrossing book that created an alternate history I could get behind.
A Supreme Court ruling makes it possible for women to enlist and be drafted into military service. Three girls sign up without fully understanding what they are signing up for. They know the idea of war, and the idea of what serving means, but like nearly anyone first signing up, they don’t really understand the ugly truth of it.
Rio’s sister is killed in the war against the Japanese. Despite her family’s pleas, she signs up to fight, too. She wants to honor her sister. She wants to know what her sister died fighting for. Her best friend enlists and they want to be there to provide strength for each other.
Frangie enlists because she knows her family is struggling, and the money she’d be paid would really help them out. She doesn’t dream of being a solider. She doesn’t really want to fight. She wants to be a medic and find a way to help her family.
Rainy has suspicions about what is going on in Europe. She is Jewish, and she has family living in occupied Europe. Rainy knows how to keep secrets and she wants to use her intelligence to kill Germans.
Rio receives the most page-time in this novel, and I really hope we get to hear more from the other girls in the future. Each girl really stands out, though, because they each represent a different culture in America. They each have reasons for wanting to fight. They each have determination. Each must struggle with the reality of war. I really loved reading about these girls and how they grow from somewhat innocent girls, at least in terms of war, to understanding that there is a lot more to the world than what they grew up knowing.
As a history nerd, I loved the fact that Grant tries to stay as close to the true history as possible. There’s obviously going to be a little straying from the complete truth because this is an alternate history. However, he has clearly done a lot of research and has fit his female soldiers into the true history.
As a history nerd, I know that women actually did serve in World War II. They weren’t part of the draft, but many women signed up to serve. I really wanted a little bit of acknowledgement of that real part of history, but there isn’t any. The women who served in World War II might not have been on the front lines, but they did play an important part of the war effort. I understand that Grant has rewritten history by placing women in the middle of the fighting, but I hope he doesn’t ignore the women who did serve, even if it’s just placing a note at the end of the book.
Any fans of history and alternate histories will probably enjoy this book. It’s not overly gory, although they are in the middle of war and it’s not going to be all sunshine and rainbows. There’s a lot of discussion regarding social injustice (Frangie is an African-American from Oklahoma and Rainy is a Jewish girl form New York, and they’re all females fighting in a “Man’s” war) that makes reading it complex and powerful. I think it’s definitely worth a try for anyone, even if you’re not a huge history or war genre reader.
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Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books and EpicReads for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.