“Front Lines” by Michael Grant Book Review

3.5 stars

Be patient.

That’s honestly the best advice I can give when reading this book. It really is a good book, but it takes some time before anything happens.

The story follows three girls during WWII: Rio Richlin, a white girl from California;Frangie Marr, a black girl from Oklahoma; and Rainy Schultermann, a Jewish girl from New York. However, this historical fiction novel has a slight twist.

Unlike what truly happened in WWII , women in this book can legally fight in the war. This is honestly what made me want to read this book. Because, well, #girlpower. And, while this element could have gone horribly wrong, I am happy to say that it didn’t.I really enjoyed the diversity in the characters and how that affected their everyday life. While it was hard to read about, Grant did an excellent job of portraying racism, sexism, and anti-semitism. It would be ignorant to pretend that that wasn’t an issue back then. (And, obviously today)

The reaction to females in the army was not pleasant, but believable. All three of these girls enlisted and had to deal with different forms of discrimination just for being a female soldier. From displeased fathers to perverted soldiers, none of it surprised me. Most army men in this book either catcalled or treated female soldiers as a joke. I can’t imagine that would have been far from reality.

I also thought the racism in this book was pretty believable. Even one of the main girls was racist. If being a women wasn’t awful enough, Frangie was also discriminated against for being black. White soldiers would pretty much treat her no better than trash. That was probably one of the hardest parts to read. The characters were just so casually racist. :/

Social issues aside, I also found this to overall be a very real and raw depiction of war. Grant did not shy away from the ugliness of war and I really loved that aspect of the book. (Trying to be as general as possible so I don’t spoil the book.)

So, why only three stars? Well, honestly, it just came down to the pacing for me. Like I stated earlier, It was just soooo slow. I felt like nothing happened for the first 300 pages until finally the war became more present. Then, it picked up. But, the first half was just really hard to get through which made my enjoyment of the book lessen and created a slight disconnect from the characters. I even almost considered putting it down a few times.

That being said, if you are willing to put in the effort of an okay first half, the second part is truly worth it. It was truly fantastic. The war comes in to full focus and the character development these girls undergo is great.

So, would I recommend it? Yes, although with a little hesitation. If you aren’t a fan of slow books, then maybe this isn’t for you. But, if you are willing to wait, I think the characters and the story line will eventually woo you.

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