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The fire by night
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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.

Trade Reviews
School Library Journal Review
Winston Churchill is often quoted as saying: "If you're going through hell, keep going." Jo, an army nurse for the Allied forces in World War II France, finds herself in hell: she is watching over a group of injured soldiers while surrounded by the enemy. Jo's friend Kay is in the Philippines, barely surviving as a prisoner of the Japanese while nursing wounded soldiers. Jo and Kay watch their patients die, while waiting for help and facing starvation, disease, and the constant fear of instant-or not so instant-death. Descriptions of the hardships of the women's current lives are interspersed with flashbacks to their time as eager young student nurses, ready to take on the world. The horrific reality of their work within the confines of a war that brings death, destruction, starvation, and terror is surpassed only by their determination to endure. This is grim reading, but teens will learn about women's vital contributions to the war effort and the many roles they played. VERDICT This story of the women of the Army Nursing Corps, who did everything in their power to keep soldiers alive while maintaining their own sanity and health, will inspire readers of dramatic historical novels to celebrate the resiliency of humanity through hope, grit, and first loves.-Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Jo and Kay become best friends during training for the Army Nurse Corps, and Messineo's debut alternates between the two of them as Kay is sent to the Pacific, while Jo goes to the Western front. Kay serves in the Malinta Tunnel hospital on Corregidor after losing her young husband at Pearl Harbor, then spends three years in the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila, where she almost starves to death. Jo, meanwhile, finds herself stranded in a field hospital tent shortly before the German surrender, along with six gravely ill or wounded patients and little in the way of food or medical supplies. After the doctor shoots himself, she is the only medical professional there; she even has to perform an appendectomy. One of her patients, a Scot suffering from typhoid, becomes a love interest. Jo and Kay's experiences make for a novel that is harrowing, grim, even sometimes hard to stomach. Though it occasionally sinks under the weight of Messineo's research and lapses into sentimentality at the end, this is a powerful read.--Quinn, Mary Ellen Copyright 2016 Booklist
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