I first came across War Girls when my friend Jim asked me to be part of Countdown to 5th June – an epic month-long blog tour celebrating June releases – and I saw that it was one of the books published on that date. I had the opportunity to interview the lovely Sally Nicholls, author of Going Spare, as part of the tour, so definitely check that out!
War Girls is a collection of nine short stories that tackle a fascinating part of history – the women who were directly involved in the First World War and the women who stayed behind, left to live among poverty, fear and grief. I find that although there’s plenty of young adult (and children’s) literature on the Second World War, there’s not as much on the First, so I think it’s fantastic that publishers haven’t given up on bringing this still relevant piece of history to young people. War Girls‘ authors include Adèle Geras, Melvin Burgess, Berlie Doherty, Mary Hooper, Anne Fine, Matt Whyman, Theresa Breslin, Sally Nicholls, and Rowena House – an incredible array of talent – and it provides something a little different for the centenary of the First World War, which began 100 years ago in July 1914.
I’ve mentioned before that my relationship with short stories is a strained one, but surprisingly for me, I enjoyed every story in War Girls. They are all wonderfully diverse, well-written and each tell a different side of the First World War. We think of certain images when we think of the World War I, but it’s easy to forget that there was no universal experience except for grief and loss. War Girls delves into the lives of all very different women of varied backgrounds and who occupy different places on the social hierarchy, from the farmer girl who will do everything she can to stop her land being taken – and what this has to do with the Spanish Flu – to 16-year-old who begins her new job – when women weren’t previously encouraged to – as a waitress on London’s Strand, only to discover that she has a much bigger job to do. We meet Merle and Grace as they fight for the right to be taken seriously and a woman who has nothing else to lose amidst the Battle of Gallipoli.
If you’ve yet to read much young adult literature on the First World War – or if you’re in the mood to head back to the past – pick up War Girls this July!
Published: 5th June 2014
Publisher: Andersen Press
Source: Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review