I’ve never been one for history. I always sat disinterested and bored in history class, and I KNOW how terrible that sounds. Despite my general disinterest, there is one time period in history that always gets me fired up. Any mention of WWII and/or the Holocaust and my ears instantly perk up. When I heard about The Fire by Night, I knew right away that I needed to read it, and I am SO glad that I did.
Sometimes we hear about unsung heroes and are moved and inspired by their bravery, left to wonder why we never heard much about them before. This novel sheds light on a whole group of such heroes – the nurses of World War II.
In this story, we meet two young nurses – Jo and Kay – who were once bright-eyed and excited to help in the war effort until eventually, the horrors of war begin to destroy their spirits. We follow their two stories separately, but also learn about how their friendship began and evolved prior to the war. Jo is on the Western front, alone in a medical tent with six very ill soldiers who are depending on her and her alone to save their lives. Kay is stationed in the Pacific in a POW camp, left with nothing but memories of a lost love. It will take everything these women have to live, hope, and love again.
This book was absolutely gripping. It was dark and intense and it opened my eyes to the absolute horrors of WWII. I am always learning more and more about the atrocities that took place and am always eager to gain as much knowledge as I can. What I loved about this book is that it taught me so much. Every other page, it seemed, I was taking out my phone to Google a new term or phrase or event from WWII. I was reading up on so many things alongside the novel and I love that… I love when a book both entertains and educates me.
You hear so much about the big battles and the soldiers and the weapons… but what about the people taking care of those soldiers? What about the people cleaning up after those battles? I never stopped to think about those people before, and I’m guessing most people haven’t. This book made me take pause. It made me look behind the scenes at some of the scariest happenings of the war, and who was there to clean up the messes. I know this book is a fictional account, but I am certain that so many of the nurses and doctors of the war went through some of these exact same things and I am astounded at the bravery, courage, and sacrifices these people made on a daily basis.
All in all, this book was amazing. Beautifully written, exceptionally researched, and incredibly detailed, I would recommend it to all fans of WWII fiction.