Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Wednesday #Review - Purple Hearts by Michael Grant #YALit #Historical

Series: Front Lines # 3
Format: Hardcover, 576 pages
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Historical Fiction

The gritty and powerful conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant’s epic alternate history series follows the young women American soldiers as D-day approaches during the final days of World War II.

Courage, sacrifice, and fear have led Rio, Frangie, and Rainy through the front line battles in North Africa and Sicily, and their missions are not over. These soldiers and thousands of Allies must fight their deadliest battle yet—for their country and their lives—as they descend into the freezing water and onto the treacherous sands of Omaha Beach. It is June 6, 1944. D-day has arrived.

None of these women are the same naïve recruits they were when the war started. They are Silver Star recipients and battle-hardened now as they traverse the dangerous bocage country and find their way out of the forests of Hürtgen and the Eifel. Others look to them for guidance and confidence, but this is a war that will leave 60 million dead. Flesh will turn to charcoal. Piles will be made of torn limbs. The women must lead through the devastating concentration camps of Buchenwald and Dachau while attempting to hold on to their own last shreds of belief in humanity.
In this powerful conclusion to the Front Lines series, New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant vividly evokes the gritty, brutal truth of World War II: War is hell.

Purple Hearts is the third and final installment in author Michael Grant's Front Lines Trilogy. Grant weaves three incredibly gripping stories together in each novel, some which actually cross. Though they come from vastly different backgrounds, each girl went from naïve recruit to decorated soldier, and all are battle-hardened fighters in Purple Hearts. Grant has been praised by reviewers, including me, for bringing his tremendous amount of research to life. In this third book, which is broken into four parts, Grant gives an accurate and authentic portrayal of the Allied forces at Omaha Beach through the liberation of Nazi Concentration Camps. If you are still hesitant about reading this series, please don't be. This is a series that features three remarkable young women: Sergeant Rio Richlin (Silver Star, Purple Heart), 2nd Lieutenant Rainy Schulterman (Silver Star) & Army Medic Frangie Marr (Silver Heart, Purple Heart).

*Sergeant Rio Richlin is originally from California. She enlisted with her best friend Corporal Jenou Castain in the US Army. They've been together from their enlistment to boot camp, to North Africa, to Sicily, and now the invasion of Europe and beyond. As the story picks up, Rio made a choice to stay in the war rather than return home where she would be used as a prop to get more young men and women to enlist. She has been given a promotion she never wanted, & a squad that now answers to her. She has definitely earned her accolades with her bravery and her ability to get out of tight situations. Her squad is mostly those she met during boot camp, but there are others who come and go. By the time this story is over, Rio and her squad mates will have participated in the deadliest military campaigns in US history and come face to face with humanity's darkest horrors. Rio will be tested and tested, but can anything happen that will finally shatter Rio's world? 

*Frangie Marr is a black girl from Oklahoma. She, like Rio, choose to enlist in the Army rather than await being selected. After going thru her own basic training trials and joining black only divisions, Frangie became a Medic. A profession that is near and dear to my heart as that is what I was in the Navy. Frangie not only faces racism from her own side, but from the enemy as well. Frangie participates in a particular event that has caused some consternation among historians trying to prove who was responsible for the slaughter of American prisoners of war at German hands. It may have been a rallying cry for American soldiers to march into Germany and finally win the war. Frangie is written as a girl who has a backbone, and doesn't run away from dying patients she is trying to treat. She also finds a particularly adorable romance with a fellow soldier. I've said this before, but it bears repeating. Frangie is just a beautiful character who gets no slack from anyone but stands tall in the face of racism and a brutal war. She faces the same challenges as Rio does but without a gun to fight back. 

*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 has faced some serious challenges over the course of the past two installments. She's been a prisoner of the brutal Nazi's, she's faced challenges from her male superiors who have no clue how to run a war. Rainy is given yet another secretive mission that will find her deep into Vincy France and beyond. Her job is to locate and report back on German movements as the allies are ready to invade Normandy and other places. Rainy is not the character you met in the beginning. She can't be. Not with what she had happen to her. Not with what she saw the Germans due to an entire village. Rainy faces betrayal, becomes an assassin, and later comes face to face with humanity's greatest horror when she and Frangie and Rio discover Hitler's concentration camp.

Even though I studied World War II in college, I didn't know about the massacre at Malmédy that led American soldiers taking a bit of revenge on their enemy. I didn't know about the idiotic American campaign in Hürtgen Forest that was an epic failure with lots of lost lives. I didn't hear about  Oradour-sur-Glane massacre that turns Rainy from a spy, into an assassin. All of these events are true. The author does something curious this time around. He introduces tertiary characters who are sometimes just there for cannon fodder, and sometimes they surprise the crap out of you with their bravery and heroics.

Readers will finally learn who the mystery writer is whose stories has been intermingling between chapters. For me, I was correct in my assumption that it had to be someone close to Rio for this person to know what happened and when. I have never in my life encountered an ending like this book has. I may have mentioned that I wasn't crying, you were in my update. Have you ever in your life seen an author actually write out an obituary for his characters? I haven't. I got chills running up and down my arms. In one way, these characters become more than just names on a page. They become real people who lived real lives.

I may have also mentioned that war is the devil's creation, but men and women are to blame for not speaking up loud enough for the message to be heard. Never again can we allow the atrocities that happened during World War II to happen in our lifetimes. An entire generation fought and died protecting not only our nation, but to prevent the Axis of Evil from ruling the world. Never again can there be a war that encompasses the entire global like it did during World War II. Never again can we allow a race of people to be systematically eliminated (Genocide) without standing up with one voice.  

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