Cristina Reads Too Much: The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey

 

Getting around to reading a book (other than a textbook) can be tough in college, we know this.  When you’re cramming in between classes, Her Campus Lasell’s got you covered.  

Introducing Cristina Reads Too Much, a weekly segment where we break down and spill the tea about the best books RN and give our honest reviews and ratings. 

 

The Rundown:

Loosely based on the experiences of the American Red Cross Girls during World War II, The Beantown Girls is narrated by 25-year-old Fiona Denning, an administrative assistant from Boston who joins the Red Cross in hopes of finding answers about the mysterious disappearance of her fiance, Air Force Lieutenant Danny Barker.  With her two best friends, music teacher Dottie Sousa and artist Viv Occhipinti, by her side, Fiona travels overseas to become a “doughnut dolly” and boost the morale of the soldiers. They first find themselves in London to learn how to make doughnuts and drive a Red Cross Clubmobile.  Fiona is eager to get to continental Europe to find Danny, but she and her friends end up on the bad side of their stern supervisor Judith Chambers, and must work diligently to prove themselves worthy of moving on. When they eventually go to France, drama ensues. On the continent, Fiona and her friends find themselves on the front lines of the war.  They witness the unimaginable, including the deaths of innocent people and the horrific injuries sustained by the soldiers. The girls experience drama of the personal variety as well-- Dottie and Viv begin to pursue whirlwind romances with Allied soldiers, and Fiona begins to develop feelings for Peter Moretti, the gruff yet kind Captain of the 82nd Infantry Division, despite still being engaged to Danny.  Conflicted, Fiona decides to continue her search for Danny while maintaining a friendship with Peter, who motivates her to be brave and test her limits. Hope is fleeting, but Fiona, Dottie, and Viv are determined to make it out of the war alive.

My Thoughts:

Heartbreaking, powerful, and raw, The Beantown Girls is an ode to female friendship and the unbreakable human spirit.  The beginning is rather slow, but once I got past the first 70 or so pages, I could not put it down.  It has a large cast of characters who are all easy to root for, and Fiona is a charming first-person narrator.  Though the story is mostly fictional, it was interesting to learn about the Red Cross Girls and their role in World War II.  I was a little caught off guard by the ending, but overall it’s a poignant read. If you like history or stories about female friendship,  you’ll like The Beantown Girls.

My Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“'Do fall in love again’...I remembered the words of Danny’s last letter and silently said a prayer of thanks to him for giving me that blessing.  How best to honor those we’ve lost? By not being afraid to live life and take risks, by daring to open your heart to possibility. By taking a chance to begin. Again.”