image from Junior Library Guild
Farrell, Mary Cronk. Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific. ill. Nonfiction. Abrams Books for Young Readers. 2014. 160 p. $24.95, 978-1-4917-1028-5. Outstanding. Grades 7-11.
From the striking cover to the harrowing stories inside, Pure Grit is a story that commands attention. Farrell tells the story of the hundred nurses that were stationed in the Philippines during World War II. Since most of the action of World War II had been in Europe, the nurses thought they were going to a safe place primarily to attend to the needs of military personnel and their families in peace time.
The nurses’ life in the Philippines was relaxed at first. They played card games and attended dances. This casual lifestyle ended abruptly when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and began bombing the Philippines the following day. In a day, their lives went from serene to chaotic. Almost none of the nurses had worked in a combat zone, so the shock of attending injured men, maimed, and dying men took its toll on these women. The sound of bombs exploding was a constant. As the war raged on, food became scarce, and many people, nurses included, became malnourished. Diseases such as beriberi, dysentery, malaria, and leprosy spread. When the nurses were sent to prison camps, their families didn’t receive any news of them. By the time the war was over, and the nurses were able to go home, many of them were changed for life. Although we didn’t have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) identified yet, many of these nurses suffered from it. It was very difficult for them to adjust to life back home, and to make matters worse, the Veterans Administration denied benefits to them. By the time they were formally honored for their work in 1983, many of them had already died.
Historically significant black-and-white photographs, along with maps, a dual-column text layout, glossary, list of nurses, select timeline, endnotes, bibliography, and websites for more information, complete the book.