The Women by Kristin Hannah

When Frankie McGrath, a twenty-year-old nursing student, first hears the words "Women can be heroes, too"... it's like a lightbulb moment. Raised on Coronado Island, always doing the right thing, she takes a wild turn in 1965. With her brother off to Vietnam, she joins the Army Nurse Corps on a whim.

As clueless as the guys sent to Vietnam, Frankie faces the chaos of war and the shock of returning to a changed America. "The Women" sheds light on all the forgotten women who risked it all. 

From the moment Frankie's plane descends into Vietnam, to her first night in the barracks- I was aghast and desperate to read on. This book made it all seem so close.  Kristin Hannah is meticulous and straight forward about the horrors of war, so much so that I often came to full stops in my reading. 

Frankie, initially thrust into service beyond her depth, discovers that her nursing training inadequately prepared her for the harrowing demands of war. Through sheer determination, she evolves into a highly sought-after nurse renowned for her competence and compassion. After enduring multiple deployments, Frankie returns home only to confront a distinct, internal battle. 

The tribulations faced by Vietnam veterans upon returning home are well-known—permanent physical issues and extreme emotional and psychological trauma. Their reentry was marked by derision, protests, and struggles with coping mechanisms, ranging from suicide attempts to substance abuse. The enduring repercussions of their wartime experiences persisted for years.

Frankie, upon her return, encountered the widespread notion that "there were no women in Vietnam." Despite facing the horrors of war and perpetual fear for her life, her experience was dismissed as unreal. Frankie's parents chose to conceal her wartime involvement, expecting her to seamlessly resume her role as a privileged, sheltered daughter. The community, too, offered little solace, with friends either reluctant to acknowledge her service or outright disbelieving her account. 

"The Women," centered on the ordeals of women in the Vietnam War, serves as an illuminating commentary on their often-overlooked contributions. This novel hammers home the testament of friendship amidst the most trying circumstances and the fortitude required to survive hell.

Having cherished every work by Kristin Hannah, I attest to her unparalleled ability to immerse readers in the settings and emotions of her characters. Highly recommend!

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