Switchboard Soldiers

Morrow. Jul. 2022. 464p. ISBN 9780063080690. $28.99. F
So much new information is packed into this story that becomes the best kind of history lesson. In 1917, Marie in Cincinnati, Grace in New York City, and Vivian in Los Angeles are all young women working a switchboard at their local telephone company. When the U.S. Army Signal Corps sends out a call for experienced operators fluent in French, they were among the few able to pass rigorous enlistment examinations. Once deployed, the women found themselves widely dispersed and facing unique challenges, but always connected. Chiaverini (Mrs. Lincoln’s Sisters; “Elm Creek Quilts” series) makes it easy to identify with and care about these women who come from three regions of the United States and have differing familial and cultural backgrounds but share the motivation of patriotism for multiple countries. The dangers of war are neatly integrated into daily lives and geographic locations, and Chiaverini also addresses gender and race inequities and the insidious dangers of the spread of influenza on overseas troop transport.
VERDICT Offer supplemental resources for further exploration of these groundbreaking women, and how they were treated after the end of World War I, to keep avid history readers engaged.
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