“But she has learned something about fear: you must always listen to it, but you need not give in to it.”
Rainy Schulterman, Purple Hearts, chapter 3, page 41
You can’t read Purple Hearts by Michael Grant and not feel anything. You can’t finish this book and not feel something. Likely you’ll run the gauntlet of feelings—horror, revulsion, admiration, anger, and yes, even joy. Because despite the heavy subject matter, at heart, it’s a story of three young women and Grant did a masterful job weaving it all together.
This is the third book in Grant’s Front Lines series featuring Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman. They are soldier girls of World War II in this unique series that combines actual history with a ‘what if?’—what if women were allowed to enlist and were drafted to serve on the front lines during the second World War.
What if these young women kicked ass alongside the men regardless of race, gender, and religion? A female, koummya-carrying platoon sergeant, why not? A female black medic, why not? A female Jewish intelligence agent, why not?
As Purple Hearts opens with D-Day, our three soldier girls most definitely are no longer the young recruits originally introduced in book one. They are war veterans. Soldiers.
They’ve seen the unimaginable, done the unthinkable, and are still standing despite injuries, imprisonment, and the nightmares of war that can never be forgotten. This book takes the reader from D-Day through the end of World War II (and beyond) including their first-hand experiences at the Dachau Concentration Camp.
Like the other two books in the Front Lines series, Purple Hearts is not for the squeamish. It’s brutal, graphic, and immersive. It’s also imaginative, hopeful, and filled with moments that I enjoyed.
Damn, I like these Soldier Girls and I am a bit sorry their story concluded.
The ending of Purple Hearts made me smile, chuckle, and yes, there were some tears. I thought it was a beautiful tribute to these amazing characters we’ve grown to love over the course of three books. Rio, Frangie, and Rainy—I love them for different reasons, but each found a place in my heart and I’ll happily add these young women to my list of favorite fictional characters I’d like to have a drink with.
For more about the author Michael Grant, check out his page at HarperCollins.
My Silver Stars review (book 2).
My Front Lines review (book 1).