cover image Lines of Courage

Lines of Courage

Jennifer A. Nielsen. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-338-62093-1

Nielsen (Words on Fire) presents a history of WWI from the perspectives of five young people—each representing an empire of that era—whose stories slowly converge. Opening with Austro-Hungarian Felix Baum, a Jewish 12-year-old who witnesses the June 1914 assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the novel quickly introduces 11-year-old Elsa Dressler, daughter of a German major, and continues with the experiences of Kara Webb, a British nurse’s daughter working with her mother on a Red Cross ambulance train. Kara eventually crosses paths with Juliette Caron, a French girl separated from her family, who hopes to get her father released from prison. When Juliette finds wounded Russian Dimitri Petrenko, 14, she tends to his injuries until he can return to his company. The engrossing plot abounds with necessary, if just-credible, coincidences that build connections between the five as they live through battles, bombings, and occupations—each one growing in courage and compassion while maturing over four years of wartime. All characters cue as white. An author’s note contextualizes WWI’s beginnings. Ages 8–12. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. (May)