“A moving tale of female solidarity and courage.” (Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network)
December 1917. As World War I rages in Europe, twenty-four-year-old Ruby Wagner, the jewel in a prominent Philadelphia family, prepares for her upcoming wedding to a society scion. Like her life so far, it’s all been carefully arranged. But when her beloved older brother is killed in combat, Ruby follows her heart and answers the Army Signal Corps’ call for women operators to help overseas.
As one of the trailblazing “Hello Girls” deployed to war-torn France, Ruby must find her place in the military strata, fight for authority and respect among the Allied soldiers, and work to secure a victory for the cause. But balancing service to country is complicated further by a burgeoning relationship with army medic Andrew Carrigan.
What begins as a friendship forged on the front lines soon blossoms into something more, forcing Ruby to choose between the conventions of a well-ordered life back home, and the risk of an unknown future.
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Girls on the Line by Aimie K. Runyon is an incredibly moving novel about the trailblazing “Hello Girls” the nickname given the women operators in the Army Signal Corp in WWI. Ruby Wagner is already a trailblazer of sorts in that she works as a telephone operator and she’s engaged to the son of a well-connected family. Runyon’s exquisite historical fiction will take you on an emotional journey with Ruby as she leaves a life of privilege in Philadelphia, PA to serve her country after her brother dies in the war. She wants to serve so other families won’t have to lose sons, brothers or husbands. Ruby is sent overseas were she serves with a great group of other women who come from different backgrounds and a couple with early backgrounds in Canada. They quickly decided to pool their knowledge and hone their skills. They all understand they must work together as a team and do their very best to help get the correct information back and forth from headquarters to the front lines.
Runyon has written a beautiful novel that delves into what real life in WWI must have been like as she envelopes you into Ruby’s story. It’s as though you become one of the characters yourself! You feel the tension the “Hello Girls” are under as they continue to connect calls while having to learn to learn new complex codes sometimes on a day’s notice. They go through all the rigors of war together as they are sent to the front. The girls truly become FAMILY. You can’t go through those life-changing experiences and not be drawn together. It makes you wonder how they will ever adjust once they get to go home. What about the these bonds they’ve formed? They’re not the same innocent girls they were when they left home! Ruby has changed the most. She has made the biggest decision to change everything about the plans her parents had planned for her future. She believes she found herself and her future while overseas. A story for the ages! I was provided an ARC of this book by Lake Union Publishers and NetGalley. The opinions expressed here are completely my own and without influence.