Popular teen author Michael Grant continues his saga about three young women soldiers fighting with the United States forces in Europe during World War II. In this alternate history trilogy, women are allowed to enlist and serve alongside men.
In the first book of the series, Front Lines, the reader meets Rio, a combat soldier from California; Frangie, an African American medic; and Rainy, a Jewish girl assigned to the intelligence service. The sequel, Silver Stars, recounts the battle for the Italian island of Sicily. Through scene after scene of wartime waiting, interpersonal maneuvering, bloody battles, and longing for peace, these young women persevere, rise to challenges, make sacrifices, and deal with the terrors of wartime life both inside and out of the trenches. Personal lives and loves flourish, but mostly suffer. Loyalty, devotion, patriotism, and comradeship are all there, but so are mud, blood, fear, and gruesome wounds. The soldiers face racism and anti-Semitism and each has to repeatedly prove that, as women, they are up to the jobs they hold, that they can be trusted. All three earn high honors for their service.
In the third and final book of the series, Purple Hearts, the three protagonists are now well-trained, experienced, and battle-tested as they prepare to face D-Day. Graphic war scenes alternate with more introspective passages; the young women form bonds with their fellow soldiers and do what they must to serve their country, while simply trying to survive. The reader encounters concentration camps and feels the shock Rainy experiences when she sees fellow Jews who have been victimized by Nazis. As the soldiers prepare for a postwar life, they assess their incredible growth, acknowledge their pain, and think about what this experience has meant to them. They march into the future prepared for life ahead.
Filled with gripping and graphic war scenes, this trilogy will hold the attention of readers ages 14 and up, especially girls looking for strong role models. A bibliography and glossary are included.
Other books in this review
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. She has lectured on a variety of topics relating to children and books and her greatest joy is reading to her grandchildren on both sides of the ocean. Michal lives in Great Neck, NY and Efrat, Israel.