RUTH VANDYKE AND YVONNE DOLL
Synopsis from NetGalley: In the summer of 1976, the first women were admitted to the United States Military Academy, and the first women to complete a four-year ROTC program were commissioned as second lieutenants.
Lori, Maura, Anne, and Amelia’s journey into a male-dominated Army are chronicled in this exciting, page-turning adventure, as they face the challenges of being accepted into an army that is struggling to integrate women.
Refined by Fire shares the women’s uncertainty, frustration, and friendship, while accurately depicting the challenges both the academy cadets and active-duty lieutenants encountered in the United States Army of the mid-1970s. Refined by Fire, the first novel in the Guardians of Peace historical fiction series by Ruth VanDyke and Yvonne Doll, weaves a tale of young women surviving and thriving in sometimes difficult and completely uncharted circumstances.
Stats for my copy: Kindle ebook, published by Greenleaf Book Group, 2014.
How acquired: Received free from the publisher via NetGalley.
My thoughts: It took me much longer to read this than it should have. It was very interesting from an historical standpoint. There is an incredible amount of detail regarding the schooling and training cadets go through. And the hazing, which was often worse for the women than for the men.
But there was no character development. I never felt any connection to any of the women or felt like I really got to know any of them. In fact, I often had trouble remembering who was who, because none of them had a distinct personality or stood out from the others. At times, when the women were talking to each other, or to someone else, it felt more like their conversation was for the purpose of info dump, rather than natural conversation.
And then this just irritated me – when one of the women is transferred to a new location, she asks the officer showing her around what a TA-50 is. He expresses shock, asking in an incredulous tone:
“You don’t know what TA-50 is, ma’am?”
Maura shook her head. “If I did, I can assure you I would not have humiliated myself by asking a question that you obviously think is stupid…”
They then begin talking about something else and he never tells her what a TA-50 is, and I had to go to the glossary at the end of the book to find out. (Individual military combat gear, in case you're interested.)
Unfortunately, the book just didn't really hold my interest, and while I did finish it, I was glad to reach the end.