cover image Front Lines

Front Lines

Michael Grant. HarperCollins/Tegen, $18.99 (576p) ISBN 978-0-06-234215-7

In this skillfully imagined alternate history, Grant (the Messenger of Fear series) envisions a 1940 lawsuit that leads to the draft and the right to enlist being extended to women. He then follows three teenagers who enlist after Pearl Harbor through basic training and on to North Africa. Rio Richlin, an aimless small-town girl, feels moved to enlist after her older sister dies in the war, and is joined by her boy-crazy friend Jenou Castain. African-American Frangie Marr, who dreams of becoming a doctor, enlists to help support her disabled father. And as a Jewish New Yorker, Rainy Schulterman needs little excuse to join the fight against Hitler. Grant pulls no punches about the sexism, racism, and violence his characters encounter. All of the protagonists are well-developed individuals, but also represent “every soldier girl who carried a rifle, dug a hole, slogged through mud, steamed or froze, prayed or cursed, raged or feared, ran away or ran toward.” This gripping and heart-wrenching tale, which promises a sequel, is particularly apropos considering the Armed Forces’ current reconsideration of the role of women in combat. Ages 14–up. [em]Agent: Steve Sheppard, Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams and Sheppard. (Jan.) [/em]