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Literature / Soldier Girls

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Soldier Girls is a trilogy of books by Michael Grant. The books are set in an alternate history scenario where women are allowed to fight in combat roles during World War Two. It is based around three main characters - White infantry soldier Rio Richlin, African-American Medic Frangie Marr and Rainy Schulterman, a Jew who works for Army Intelligence.

The first book, Front Lines, is set in 1942 and covers basic training and the North African front. The second book, Silver Stars, is set in 1943 and covers the war in Italy. The third book, Purple Hearts, is set predominantly in 1944-45 and covers the war from D-Day to VE Day. It also has an epilogue set in 1964.

Tropes present in this work:

  • Ace Pilot: Averted with Strand Braxton. In Purple Hearts, he breaks under the pressure and deserts. It is later revealed that he married Rio after the war but they divorced.
  • Action Girl: Rio, Cat, Rainy, Jenou (later on), Molina.
  • Barefoot Poverty: Frangie Marr is this in the first book before enlisting. She's outgrown her last pair of shoes and can't afford to wear any until she arrives at military boot camp (Frangie notes the irony in that name). It's stated how utterly humiliating going barefoot in public is for her.
    "A short girl with no shoes. Probably looks thirteen."
  • The Big Guy: Geer, Rudy J. Chester and Cat as a gender-flipped version.
  • The Brigadier: Jon Herkemier, as of the end of Purple Hearts.
  • Child Soldiers: Rio lied about her age to sign up.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Rainy goes through this at the climax of the second book, being tortured by Italian soldiers for several weeks after being captured.
  • Colonel Badass: The Colonel who showed up out of nowhere at Omaha Beach, led a charge and then disappeared.
  • Dad the Veteran: Thom Richlin served in the First World War. Frangie and Walter Green become this after the war.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jack, with Rio, Rainy, Geer and Jenou showing elements of this.
  • Dirty Communists: Averted with Philippe. He is a Communist Maquis fighter, but also a sympathetic character.
  • A Father to His Men: Cole, Stick and Rio as a gender-flipped version in Purple Hearts
  • Field Promotion: Rio becomes Platoon Sergeant after Stick dies in combat. That causes Geer to be promoted to Squad Leader while still a Corporal.
  • The Leader: Cole, then Stick, then Rio and finally Geer.
  • New Meat: The entire squad apart from Cole and Millican during Front Lines. Magraff stays as this until her death. Beebee until he becomes The Scrounger. Hobart, Ostrowitz, Molina and Chester at first. Dial.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Jon Herkemier, with Walter Green as an enlisted version.
  • Old Soldier: Sergeant Phil O'Malley is 45, a veteran of World War One and described as ancient by Rio.
  • Politically Correct History: Played with. Racism and segregation are accurately depicted and the women soldiers do still face prejudice by their male counterparts. That being said, the military is surprisingly meritocratic and the sexism is extremely toned down by 1940s standards.
  • Rank Up: Rio, Rainy, Frangie, Jenou, Cat, Cole, Stick, Vanderpool, Mackie, Geer, Herkemier, Aryeh, Strand.
  • Up Through the Ranks: Mackie, Rainy, Rio, who retires at the rank of Major-General long after the war, having begun as a Private.