A powerful and evocative debut novel about two American military nurses during World War II that illuminates the unsung heroism of women who risked their lives in the fight.
A riveting saga of friendship, valor, sacrifice, and survival combining the grit and selflessness of Band of Brothers with the emotional resonance of The Nightingale.
In war-torn France, Jo McMahon, an Italian-Irish girl from the tenements of Brooklyn, tends to six seriously wounded soldiers in a makeshift medical unit. Enemy bombs have destroyed her hospital convoy, and now Jo singlehandedly struggles to keep her patients and herself alive in a cramped and freezing tent close to German troops. There is a growing tenderness between her and one of her patients, a Scottish officer, but Jo’s heart is seared by the pain of all she has lost and seen. Nearing her breaking point, she fights to hold on to joyful memories of the past, to the times she shared with her best friend, Kay, whom she met in nursing school.
Half a world away in the Pacific, Kay is trapped in a squalid Japanese POW camp in Manila, one of thousands of Allied men, women, and children whose fates rest in the hands of a sadistic enemy. Far from the familiar safety of the small Pennsylvania coal town of her childhood, Kay clings to memories of her happy days posted in Hawaii, and the handsome flyer who swept her off her feet in the weeks before Pearl Harbor. Surrounded by cruelty and death, Kay battles to maintain her sanity and save lives as best she can . . . and live to see her beloved friend Jo once more.
When the conflict at last comes to an end, Jo and Kay discover that to achieve their own peace, they must find their place—and the hope of love—in a world that’s forever changed. With rich, superbly researched detail, Teresa Messineo’s thrilling novel brings to life the pain and uncertainty of war and the sustaining power of love and friendship, and illuminates the lives of the women who risked everything to save others during a horrifying time.
A story needed to be told and exceptionally well written by this author…although the reality of war is not for the faint hearted at times. Reading it cannot help but leave one with great admiration for the heroic contribution of nurses to the war effort of WWII. – Parke Reader
I was extremely moved by this book! This is a story that needed to be told! As a nurse and daughter of a WWII veteran I found myself feeling very connected to these characters, who were well written and believable. The horrors and hardships endured were incredible! Very grateful to this author for spending years doing the research to bring this important and long buried part of our history to light! – M. Van Gestel
I really enjoyed this book, told from the perspective of two best friends who join up as US Army nurses during WWII…Kay who is sent to the Pacific and deals with Pearl Harbor, and Jo who is on the front lines in Europe. Both join to get away from the lives they grew up in, both learn about love, suffering, and loss. Well researched and very well written, I enjoyed the story and finished in one afternoon! – Trish Tompkins