by Julie Berry
Viking Books, 2019. 480 pages. Young Adult
Confronted by her jealous husband, the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, pleads her case before the gods with a story of her greatest triumph - the love and friendship of two couples, whose paths cross in the midst of World War I. Shy Hazel, a pianist, charms a dreamer named James while performing at a dance just days before he's shipped off to the trenches. Inspired to do her part, Hazel joins a volunteer corps she meets Colette, who suffered devastating loss in her Belgian village. Stationed at an American encampment, the women meet Aubrey Edwards, a spectacular musician in the 15th New York Infantry, whose music comes alive when Colette sings along. In the face of violence, tragedy, and danger from "friends" and foes alike, these four are living proof that even the rage of war is no match for the power of love.
Julie Berry is a master of historical fiction writing. Wonderfully researched, she weaves a compelling romance in with the devastation of World War I. Not only will you feel completely immersed in the year 1917, and intimately acquainted with the four young heroes, you'll learn about the legendary 15th New York Infantry, the all-african american regiment who bolstered allied spirits with jazz and ragtime, and faced the dangers of the battlefield as well as prejudice and violence at the hands of fellow American soldiers. I cried more than once listening to this beautiful book. Besides excellent performances by multiple readers (each of the four lovers and Greek gods has their own voice!), the audiobook includes music as well!