The biography of a young nurse from Minnesota who joins the war effort behind her father’s back. She finds herself holed up treating the critically wounded from the Battle of the Bulge. In December 1944, she blatantly defies discriminatory army rules to save the lives of her patients.
A month after her 24th birthday, Lt. Mary Elizabeth Balster collapses among the rubble of a shelled supply room. Has the young nurse finally succumbed to the mounting emotional toll caused from months of caring for the sick and wounded just behind the front lines of General Patton’s Third Army? On the night of November 30, 1944, holed up in the Heinrich Himmler Barracks in Morhange, France, Lt. Balster’s evac receives a typical patient load (over 200 soldiers, including wounded enemy), but this time one of the admissions is a 19-year-old tanker she’d nursed back to health five months before in Normandy. The charge nurse on Surgical gently informs the lieutenant that the private is critical, admitted with two gunshot wounds and almost half his body consumed by burns. Rising determined to save him, Balster limps toward the shelled supply room determined to search for any blood plasma bottles still intact after Luftwaffe strafing.
Recaptured from her mother’s reminiscences and letters home, N. C. R. Davis takes the reader through every heat-of-battle harrowing moment as Balster lived it, achieving a rare glimpse of one nurse’s point of view during the latter part of the European conflict.
The book mixes Lt. Balster’s observations, memories, and dreams to re-tell the true story of a richly rebellious and intense woman trying to navigate her life and nurture her sanity while nursing the wounded and dying frontline soldiers of the Third Army. Her strong-willed, beguiling personality fosters the grit necessary for her success as a combat nurse, but these same characteristics cause two men to fall in love with her. And the personal cost of war comes to a heartrending conclusion, as she must choose one man over the other to save herself.