1942. World War II. The most terrible war in human history. Millions are dead; millions more are still to die. The Nazis rampage across Europe and eye far-off America.
The green, untested American army is going up against the greatest fighting force ever assembled—the armed forces of Nazi Germany.
But something has changed. A court decision makes females subject to the draft and eligible for service. So in this World War II, women and girls fight, too.
As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, 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. Not one expects to see actual combat. Not one expects to be on the front lines.
Rio, Frangie, and Rainy will play their parts in the war to defeat evil and save the human race. They will fear and they will rage; they will suffer and they will inflict suffering; they will hate and they will love. They will fight the greatest war the world has ever known.
New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant has created a masterful alternate history of World War II in Front Lines, the first volume in a groundbreaking series.
“Only Jack has remarked on the irony that America is going to war against a white supremacist enemy with a segregated American army.”
― Michael Grant, Front Lines
Although this novel poses an alternate history of WWII in that, that females can now join or be drafted into the Army, it portraits these tender beginnings of immersion very realistically. Michael Grant introduces the reader to three main female characters in the beginning, who are all at a tender age of 18 or under in 1942.
Rio, the hardy and pretty farm girl from a small boring town in California who has just fallen for a young man in town. Their paths into the service separate them right from the start as they leave for their basic training. Frangie, an African American girl, driven with aspirations to be in the medical field joins the military to help her family pay their bills. And Rainy, a very smart, witty Jewish girl who takes no slack from anyone and enlists into the Special Forces.
The narration in the book alternates between the characters as each of the girls face and triumph over different challenges during their training. None of the girls are officers and the difference between the ranks of the enlisted are made very clear to all of them and that narrative stays throughout the entire book. White males and females are in one camp, and soldiers of other races and color are segregated into another training camp. Curtains are drawn between the females and males in the barracks.
After basic training, the soldiers have 3 days to go on R&R and the girls check in with their families. Upon return, they are shipped off to fight the Germans on the northern coast of Africa, and this is where you will be transported into the on goings of the war with each of the characters.
The scenes of some of the battles, the fear and loss, the endurance and strength, the way the girls went through it all, is what stirred my heart to get involved into the story and what drove my rating up. This is a YA novel, and I thought it was told accordingly, but nothing short of making you understand and feel the brutality and comradery of soldiers in the war.
As others have pointed out in previous reviews, there was prejudice and gender inequality around every corner; on duty and off duty, on the field and off the field. However, there were a few instances where smarts outwitted rank or outdid perpetrators in very ingenious simple ways. I enjoyed those gum-shoe moments for the characters.
The character development and events rose steadily and came together beautifully in this story. It wasn’t too slow or too fast, just an enjoyable read at a good pace. There will be a book two that will continue with where this one left off, which I don’t want to spoil for anyone and I am looking forward to reading the next one.