What would WW2 have been like if women had been allowed to enlist? Michael Grant’s new book, Front Lines, addresses this idea. The book is faithful to history – the reality of war, the horror and bloodshed, the narrow mindedness of 1940’s society, attitudes to woman, racism – faithful in all ways except the fact that in his story women are allowed to enlist and to fight on the front line.
This is not a book for the faith hearted – descriptions of war and injuries and death are painfully honest. Neither is it for readers who shy away from the unpleasant sexist and racist behaviour of previous generations – readers need to be aware that at times the author uses language that is highly offensive today but was accepted in the 1940’s.
However, it is the book for readers who enjoy following the lives of a group of characters, watching them grow and develop, or for readers who question war and how it is fought or for readers who like to question attitudes in society. This is a serious, thoughtful, albeit fairly long, book with plenty to teach, fascinate and interest the reader.
There will be second book in the series – so look out for it.
Set in WW2, this is history with a twist: American woman are allowed to enlist. The book follows the experiences of three young women – Rio, Rainy and Frangie as they sign up and go to war. Rio is a country girl who signs up with her friend. She’s underage at 17 but she soon grows up when she is assigned the role of rifleman and finds herself right in the middle of the fighting. Rainy is a highly intelligent New York Jewess who works with military intelligence and Frangie is black American who dreams of being a medic and whose family needs her income. All three women face sexist taunts and Frangie suffers from racist bigotry too; but they are determined to prove themselves. As they battle to be soldiers and to fight alongside their male peers, each of these women discovers hidden reserves in themselves.
Women at war:
Although women enlisting and fighting on the front line in WW2 is a fantasy, readers need to remember that women did serve in WW2 and books like Code Name Verity cover this (Michael Grant makes reference to how this book inspired him). A book with a women as a soldier (though not WW2 and living in disguise) is Buffalo Soldier and this is worth a read too.