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The Vanguard

Lebanon Trail High School News

The Vanguard

Lebanon Trail High School News

The Vanguard

“The Women” Gives Female Vets of Vietnam a Voice

Cover of novel “The Women” by Kristin Hannah

“The Women” is the recently released book by acclaimed historical fiction author Kristin Hannah. The story follows young nursing student Frankie McGrath who enlists in the Vietnam War as a combat nurse. Throughout this book, her life during combat and the continuing trauma she faces coming home are explored.

Before diving into my review, let’s explore the history of Vietnam portrayed in the literature and Hollywood world. Historically most of the war movies and books have been over World War 2, with Vietnam stories being looked down upon. The late 70s and 80s brought the wave of Vietnam films such as “Apocalypse Now”, “Full Metal Jacket”, and “Good Morning Vietnam”. While these movies are now seen as critically acclaimed, they faced major backlash at the time. Many just wanted to ignore Vietnam and forget it ever happened.

“The Women” follows the main character Frankie, who enlists in the war for nursing despite her parents arguing against such a decision. The plot covers this war’s nature of brutality and trauma, depicted even when Frankie is back in the US.

She is repeatedly told there were no women in Vietnam, even by other male vets, which meant they were lucky enough never to face serious injuries. Compared to WW2 veterans who were praised for their heroic service, Vietnam veterans were shunned and looked down upon. This treatment was of course even more heightened for women. In fact, she was even met with shame from her parents.

Hannah opens up light to the female Vietnam stories that barely get told. In the book’s acknowledgment, she even takes the time to mention the veterans she interviewed to make sure her story could be as accurate as possible.

“The Women” was an emotional rollercoaster. After I finished the story, thoughts of the characters and storyline lingered in my mind, which is a rare occurrence. I still thought about the characters and storyline, which rarely happens to me. I am the type of reader who will move on right away when I finish a book unless it is the type that gets me connected, which usually means the book is five-star quality. Just when you think that Frankie has experienced enough heartbreak and trauma there’s more for her to face around the corner. Hannah does an incredible job at making the reader feel the same emotion Frankie was going through. 

In the beginning of the story she is told by her brother’s friend Rye (who eventually becomes vital to the story) that ¨women can be heroes too.¨ This man who inspires her entrance into the war ends up bringing one of the biggest heartbreaks of the story. I found myself tearing up in that moment when Frankie finally sees his true colors.

My overall rating of “The Women” is five out of five stars. Despite the 400-page length of the novel, Hannah will keep the reader hooked through it all. This book gives the female veterans of Vietnam a voice that they rarely have in storytelling, and does not sugarcoat their story whatsoever.

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About the Contributor
Marisa Naraine
Marisa Naraine, Staff Reporter
Marisa Naraine is a current sophomore at LTHS. She joined newspaper in hopes to pursue journalism in the future. If that doesn’t happen, she plans to become a therapist instead. She is also a member of the LT color guard. If she is not busy with schoolwork or color guard she’s probably reading or watching movies that she plans to write a review for newspaper. Contact Info - [email protected]

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