First sentence: “I’m not going to tell you my name, not right away.”
Expectations: A gender-bent WWII, where all soldiers are women.
Reality: Well, it’s an alternate world that lets women fight alongside men on the front lines.
How alternate is this world? It doesn’t feel like too much? In Front Lines, women were fighting on the front lines, whereas in American history, women were only on the home front. It didn’t seem to be a big departure from what actually happened in the War.
The women of Front Lines: All these girls volunteer in the military for many reasons, but for the main three characters that the book follows:
- Rio Richlin from Gedwell Falls, California fights to honor her deceased sister;
- Frangie Marr, an African American girl from Tulsa, Oklahoma, volunteers in the war because her family’s in need of money;
- and Rainy Schulterman, a Jewish girl from New York City, wants to put her skills to help against the Germans.
The books move from each girl’s point of view: Rio fighting with a rifle on the front line with her best friend Jenou, Frangie nursing soldiers with injuries and wounds, and Rainy putting her language skills to good use by joining Intelligence.
That’s not all the happens. These girl face a lot of sexist and racist comments about their person, but they continue to strive forward, not letting it bother them and proving that a girl can do anything a guy can do (and then some). They struggle a lot in the face of adversity, but you see these girls take care of business when everybody thinks they can’t do anything. That was great.
Front lines fight: When you think about the major battles of World War II, you think of Normandy Beach or the Battle of Iwo Jima. In Front Lines, the action takes place in Tunisia—part of the North Africa Campaign between the Allied (British, Americans, French) forces and Axis (German and Italian) forces. I had never read any depiction of the battles in Tunisia, so I was absolutely intrigued by the events.
Pacing: Slow, for the first half which is where it’s setting up the reasons why the characters volunteer in the military and what they experience in boot camp. It ramps up in the last half of the book, where it’s spent on the front lines in Tunisia. I kept putting down the book because the first part was sooo slow, which made it boring for me.
Writing: In Michael Grant fashion, the writing left a lot to be desired. There’s nothing wrong, per say, but it just so simple, all talk of action, and minimal showing. Descriptions are not really Grant’s strong suit; it’s awkward during the parts he chooses to describe something like how one of the girls look like. It’s a generic sentence that doesn’t really describe anything. That and the pacing are what takes my emotional investment out of these characters.
I was extremely disappointed that we didn’t get to experience a girl who had been involuntarily drafted into the War. It would be interesting to see how different her experience would be from the other ladies who volunteered. Not only that, I really wanted to see at least one of these girls be disillusioned by the war. Not everybody will support what is going on during the War when they experience.
The omniscient voice in the prologue and inter-spliced through some parts were awkward. This voice is talking to the reader, and it really takes you out of the story. It didn’t really serve a purpose like aiding it, which it didn’t.
- Front Lines isn’t exactly mind blowing or turning anything we know about history upside down on its head (which is what I expected). I didn’t find it exciting, nor particularly new with awesome depiction of what happened.
Should you read Front Lines? Uhhh, sure, since there’s awesome girls kicking ass and dealing with terrible sexist and racist people on the front line of WWII. I’m very apathetic to this book because the writing and pacing made it hard for me to be emotionally invested in the characters. If you want to read Front Lines, just borrow it from the library.