Title: All the Lights Above Us
Author: M.B. Henry
Publication: May 10, 2022
Publisher: Alcove Press
Genre: Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)
Across Europe, on what history will call D-Day, five unforgettable women from all walks of life strive to survive the most terrifying night of their lives.
Told in alternating viewpoints, this unforgettable debut is perfect for fans of Kate Quinn and Pam Jenoff.
June 6, 1944. Allied forces hit the beaches of Nazi-occupied France. Among the countless lives shattered are those of five spirited women with starkly different lives. As the war reaches its tipping point, each of the women fight for the survival of themselves, their countries, and their way of life during one of the most pivotal days in history.
American expatriate Mildred, better known as Axis Sally, has a thriving career as a Nazi radio propagandist, but her conscience haunts her. Meanwhile, across the English Channel, young medical volunteer Theda is pushed to her limit as shiploads of casualties dock in Portsmouth. Closer to the front, intrepid Flora aids the French resistance, while she seeks out her vanished parents. Iron-willed Emilia has climbed the Gestapo ranks, but she is now bent on betraying them. Finally, dignified Adelaide’s faith is shaken when she is forced to quarter German soldiers.
Now, during the most perilous twenty-four hours of their lives, all five women must summon courage they never knew they had, as they confront the physical dangers of war, alongside treacherous family secrets, heartbreak, and the ability to trust themselves. For these women, their inner strength is their only hope. But is it enough? How far can one person go for the things they believe in?
**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
My favorite types of stories from World War II are the untold or behind-the-scenes stories of the women who helped shape the outcome. When I saw All the Lights Above Us and read the description I knew I had to read it. While it definitely spotlights women in World War II who made different decisions for personal reasons I was a little disappointed in the delivery of the story. Let me explain.
The story follows multiple women in different places as they face D-Day during World War II. What I love is that these are just ordinary women. They aren’t even necessarily women in secret spy positions, but just ordinary women doing ordinary things to survive. There’s a grandmother trying to reach her daughter and grandchildren, a radio host convincing herself she is not spewing Nazi propaganda against her home country, a beautiful girl trying not to become a breeding woman for the Nazis, and more. These women in different ways did what they had to do to survive and to live with themselves at the end of the day. I liked how not everything they did was good. Usually we are solely focused on those who helped the resistance or were anti-nazi, but in this story we got a little glimpse at someone unwilling to admit they were actually helping the Germans. That was a take I hadn’t read before and was interesting to see how they justified things to themselves. Henry wrote an array of women of different ages and upbringings with a lot of different skills and stories to share. It’s not an easy feat to do.
My biggest issue with this is that I feel each of these stories could have been a stand-alone story and putting all of them into one story made it a bit confusing at times seeing as it jumped from one person to another throughout and even had flashbacks at times. There was a bit too much jumping around for me. I’d have been happier with maybe 2 or 3 people’s P.O.V’s at any given time and found this to be a little overwhelming and confusing trying to keep up.
With that said I think these stories are great and Henry has a way of building engaging characters that we want to cheer for or keep flipping pages to see what comes of their choices. I would love to read these stories if I could piece each individuals story into short stories and read them separate without the jumping. Overall it was a good story and not all outcomes were great, which is also realistic. I will definitely pick up M.B. Henry’s next book.