When Paradise Turns Hellish – “The Girls of Pearl Harbor” by Soraya M. Lane

"The Girls of Pearl Harbor” is a WWII fact-based fictional account of four young women serving their country as nurses; three in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps and one Navy nurse on the hospital ship, USS Solace, all stationed in Pearl Harbor. The girls can’t believe their good luck. It’s like a paid vacation in paradise until it all turns to sh*t on the “date that will live in infamy” December 7, 1941 when the Empire of Japan carried out a surprise attack on the United States of America.

Of particular note are the accounts of the young women’s experiences and the events that test their mettle, their reactions and the bonds that form from such close quarter living and working together under oftentimes harrowing conditions. In addition to the combat scenes, the intense dramas that unfold in battlefield surgeries are especially riveting. How each character matures and evolves in response to their losses, and how they bounce back from adversity, the sisterly love they share and the romantic love each discovers is uplifting but never sappy. Seeing the historic events through the eyes of young women who were much less worldly than today’s generation is especially interesting.

Author Lane’s descriptions are vivid and hugely satisfying, the historical background well researched and the narrative is delivered in the third person voices of the three surviving women. I would’ve liked to have seen a smoother segue to the conclusion. The too quick and easy ending was a bit of a letdown after the intense drama that unfolded throughout the story. A bit like experiencing a whiplash. All told though, still a damned fine read. Four and a half stars.

My thanks to Net Galley for providing an ARC (Advance Reader’s Copy) in exchange for my honest review.

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