We Can Do It!

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! 461 pages | Pa­per­back

Au­thor Michael Grant

Pub­lisher Elec­tric Mon­key

2015 was the year when, fi­nally, ev­ery part of the US mil­i­tary could re­cruit women as well as men. But what if that had hap­pened decades ago? Front Lines is an ex­plo­ration of this in­trigu­ing “what if ”, set in a world in which a 1940 Supreme Court de­ci­sion opened the armed forces to fe­males. The rest of WWII pro­ceeded as we re­mem­ber – only this time, it wasn’t just men be­ing drafted…

It fo­cuses on the early wartime ex­pe­ri­ences of three young women join­ing the army: white Rio Rich­lin, es­cap­ing small- town Cal­i­for­nia; Frangie Marr, a poor black girl from Ok­la­homa; and Rainy Schul­ter­man, a Jewish teenager lucky enough to be as­signed to army in­tel­li­gence. Rio finds her­self con­tin­u­ally un­der­es­ti­mated, while Frangie strug­gles in an army where men and women can share dorms but non- white sol­diers still serve in seg­re­gated units, and Rainy strives to find out what’s re­ally hap­pen­ing in Europe.

It feels far more like a war story than a fan­tasy – beyond that tweak to his­tory, there are no genre el­e­ments – but this is to the novel’s credit. If women had fought in that war, in that army, this, you feel, is how it would have been. A great con­cept com­bined with rounded, en­gag­ing char­ac­ters make this a riv­et­ing read. Rhian Drinkwa­ter

Michael Grant grew up in a mil­i­tary fam­ily, mov­ing reg­u­larly – he at­tended 10 US schools, plus three in France.

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