Tuesday, January 26, 2016

#Tuesday Review - Front Lines by Michael Grant (Historical Fiction, Young Adult)

Series: Soldier Girl # 1
Format: E-ARC, 576 pages
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Source: Edelweiss/Publisher
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Perfect for fans of The Book Thief and Code Name VerityNew York Times bestselling author Michael Grant unleashes an epic, genre-bending, and transformative new series that re-imagines 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

Front Lines is the first novel in the Soldier Girl series by author Michael Grant. Front Lines is set in an alternative world where women 18 years or older, are given the opportunity to serve alongside men in a war for the first time after a Supreme Court decision opens the door for them. Front Lines focuses on three main characters: Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman. There is a third narrative, but that person has remained a mystery. All we do know is that she is a member of the 119th Division, and saw her own combat action.

*Rio Richlin is a white girl from Gedwell Falls, California. After an incident with her older sister Rachel, she chooses to enlist with her best friend Jenou in the US Army. She gets sent to basic in Georgia where she faces the ugly truth about sexism in our countries military. Thankfully, Rio stands tall in this story, and kicks some major ass while facing difficult odds. She's got a key eye for shooting, which puts her into an elite classification. I adore Rio. I love how strong she becomes over time. I loved how she is written as someone who is strong, yet has enough courage to admit when she is scared to death. Rio does have some romantic interludes in the story. We'll have to wait and see how they play out.

*Frangie Marr is a black girl from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She, like Rio, chooses to enlist in the Army rather than await being selected. After going thru her own basic training trials, Frangie gets the opportunity to train as a Medic. A profession that is near and dear to my heart. Frangie not only faces racism from her own side, but from the enemy as well. She is written as a girl who has a backbone, and doesn't run away from a dying patient she is trying to treat. Frangie is just a beautiful character who gets no slack from anyone but a certain Sergeant, but stands tall in the face of racism and a brutal war. 

*Rainy Schulterman is a Jewish girl from NYC who has her own reason for enlisting in the Military. She wants to KILL Adolf Hitler, the person who will end up killing 6 million Jews, and others over the course of World War II. Rainy gets the most breaks, but still faces challenges from her male superiors. She's not the best soldier, but she understands intelligence gathering like nobodies business. Rainy is also a character who can fluently speak several key languages which makes her a valuable asset to Army Intelligence.

I have said that Front Lines is one of the best books I've read this year, and yes I know it's still January. However, this book does what others are afraid to do. It takes a whole lot of chances, and uses language that would be considered offensive to anyone who is afraid to see the truth about our countries history and origins. I love that Grant doesn't whitewash this story for political correctness. He isn't afraid to shine the light on racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism just to be politically correct. Why whitewash history or claim it never happen so that people's feelings won't be hurt? If we continue to re-write history, we are just eager for history to repeat itself.

I am all for the Courts and Military opening up the Selective Service and draft to everyone, including young women 18 and over. Why shouldn't women be allowed to serve if they so choose and can pass muster? What right do we have to tell them they're not good enough, or that they are weaker than men? Truth be known, I served for four years in the US Navy, and had it not been for stupid laws, I would have stood shoulder to shoulder with my male colleagues in areas like Beirut. As it was, those four years were probably the best ones of my life.

**History lesson* Approximately 400,000 American women served in World War II. More than 400 lost their lives helping save the world from Germany and Japan. They drove trucks, they flew planes, they entered areas that were previously held for men only. More than 60,000 women served stateside and overseas during World War II as nurses. 67 of them were POW's of the Japanese. More than 150,000 women served in the Women's Army Corps. Thousands served with distinction in black only support groups.

In closing, I will say this, if you've read Code Name Verity and loved it as much as I did, you will need to read this book as well.  I am definitely eager to read the sequel.

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