Thursday, March 9, 2017

Review: The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo

Synopsis: 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. (from the back of the book)

Review: Warning: This book is not for the squeamish. It leaves the reader raw, scrapped open, burnt, and in awe of the military nurses who stood between their patients and all the powers of Hell, and said, “Not on my watch.”
Based on the actual stories of Army nurses, Teresa Messineo gives us two women, Kay and Jo, who forged a friendship in nursing school, a bond stronger than family. They end up on opposite sides of the conflict; Kay, trapped by the Japanese on Bataan, in the Philippines, and Jo, abandoned in no-man’s-land somewhere in Europe. Each face the demons, the death, the terror of war, each find a strength unheard  of inside themselves, each walk out a different person, and yet, find healing, through work, through friendship, through love.
There is no sugar-coating or glossing-over the trauma each of them faced. And, having recently read several books about the real-life nurses during World War II, Messineo doesn’t exaggerate what happened on either front. While Kay and Jo are fictional, the horrors they see and live through – those are authentic. It is perhaps this, more than anything else, that make this novel so powerful.
Worth reading, to understand that time, to open our eyes to the women who gave so much to serve others, to inspire us to more. 

Note: I received this book free through LibraryThing's Early Review Program, in exchange for my fair and honest opinion. 

Bookmarks: 4.5 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-06-245910-7
Year Published: 2017
Date Finished: 3-5-2017
Pages: 306

No comments:

Post a Comment