Friday, May 27, 2022

Lines of Courage

Nielsen, Jennifer A. Lines of Courage
May 17th 2022 by Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

It's 1914, and things are tense in Europe. Felix Baum and his father, who are Jewis and live in Austria-Hungary, see the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Later, they have a visit from Elsa Dressler and her family, long time friends. Elsa raises carrier pigeons and leaves one with Felix, as things are looking fire in Austria-Hungary. When the father is off at war, the Russians take over and Captain Garinov offers Felix's mother a opportunity-- turn over the names of all of her Jewish friends so they can be put in camps, and he will go easier on her. Felix sends a pigeon to Elsa, who arrives with a wagon to rescue the Baums. Meanwhile, things are bad in England as well, and after the death of her father, Kara Webb accompanies her mother on a Red Cross hospital train, acting as an orderly. She has good medical skills, but runs afoul of the administration when she saves Sgt. Baum's life. He gives her the Golden Cross of Merit that was his father's out of gratitude. Shortly after, Kara meets Juliette in Verdun. Juliette is trying to sell possessions to feed her mother and brothers, and Kara buys a red wool hat from her, but gives it back out of kindness. Juliette and her family try to flee, but the wagon gets stuck. While trying to get it to move, the family is attacked by the Germans and Juliette is separated from them. She passes out, but Kara spots her due to the red hat. She comes aboard the train, but when she has to leave, Kara gives the medal to her. Juliette ends up in a work camp, but eventually runs away and lives in a cave in the woods. By 1917, we also meet Dimitri, a fourteen-year-old Russian boy who has been press ganged into the military and is serving under Garinov. After the death of his friend Igor, he is gravely injured and rescued by Juliette. After he recuperates, he wants to get back to his unit, so Juliette sends him with supplies and the medal. After the death of the tsar, he decides to leave the army. At one point, Elsa comes across him because her father is in charge of prisoners and he is working in their home. He is accused of stealing the medal, which Elsa recognizes as being Felix's father's, and remembers Felix mentioning Kara. As the war winds down, will the five teens be able to find their way back home? Will there be any homes once they get there?
Strengths: This was harrowing to read, especially once I realized that Lemberg, where Felix lived, is the modern day Ukranian town of Lviv. World War I doesn't get a lot of coverage, so it was good to have the reasons for the different countries to be fighting. Up until recently, it would have been easy to look at this as a period piece, but looking at Putin's blatant land grab really puts this into perspective. I was able to follow the different perspectives easily enough, and it was interesting to see a range of experiences. The Red Cross hospital train was especially interesting, and the flu pandemic was addressed briefly. This was well researched, and led to a long and interesting conversation with one of my history obsessed friend... maps were involved. (And I'm curious to see if the finished book includes one, since modern day countries are a bit different from that era.)
Weaknesses: As in Kessler's When the World Was Ours, it seemed somewhat hard to believe that the characters would run into each other several times during the war, but it did make for a very interesting story. 
What I really think: Will definitely purchase this, and have to remember to put Resistance up on display on my WWII rack. I have several students following the events in Ukraine right now (3/21/22) who would find this to be a rather illuminative story. 
 Ms. Yingling


  1. I read an ARC of Lines of Courage and really enjoyed it. I haven't read many books on WWI. I'm a huge fan of Jennifer Nielsen. Glad you enjoyed it too and are getting it for your library.

  2. This sounds very good and I really like reading about WWI. My grandfather was a teenager in Austro-Hungary when WWI broke out, attending a Benedictine boarding school a few hours from Budapest. His class was graduated a year early so they could go fight for the Motherland.

    I remember thinking all the coincidences in All The Light You Cannot See required more suspension of disbelief than I was capable of, however, a good author can overcome that.