Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

FRIDAY 56: ‘The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line’

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TGIF! It’s Friday! Woop! Woop! Time for another Book Beginnings and Friday 56!

This week our Book Beginning and Friday 56 are from the same book, The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line: Untold Stories of the Women Who Changed the Course of World War II. By Major General Mari K. Eder (U.S. Army, Retired.) 

Keep reading till the end for Our Rating!

Book Beginning:

“The headlights bounced up and down on the narrow mountain road like a tennis ball. The dark car screeched back and forth around hairpin curves lined with firs, then sped up along short straightaways, only to have to brake hard at the next bend. A speeding roadster was gaining ground.”

Friday 56, from Page 56:

“By 1940, German soldiers began to occupy Hilda’s hometown. Jewish businesses were shut down. Religious rites had to be hidden. The discrimination was blatant. Hilda and her family had to wear the yellow star, both on the front and the back of their clothes. ‘We just closed ourselves up in the house,’ she said.”

About the Book

The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line are the heroes of the Greatest Generation that you hardly ever hear about.

This book introduces readers to some remarkable women of WWII. They served, fought, struggled, and made things happen―in and out of uniform. They include:

  • Polish Resistance fighter Hilda Eisen. She was captured twice by the Nazis and twice escaped, going on to fight with the Resistance in Poland. 
  • Ola Mildred Rexroat was the only Native American woman pilot to serve with the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) in World War II.  She earned her silver wings and fly, helping train other pilots and gunners. 
  • Ida and Louise Cook were British sisters and opera buffs who smuggled Jews out of Germany, often wearing their jewelry and furs, to help with their finances. 
  • Alice Marble was a grand-slam winning tennis star who undertook a dangerous undercover mission to expose Nazi theft.  After the war she became a strong advocate for the desegregation of professional tennis.  
  • Field hospital nurse Katie Flynn Nolan was right behind the troops who landed in Normandy on D-Day. She and her fellow nurses saved countless lives serving in field hospitals.
  • Diert Eman fought the Nazis as a member of the Dutch Resistance.

Many more, including cartographers, spies, and code-breakers. Also WASP pilots and those who bult information programs, helped others escape, saved lives, and defied expectations. “They broke all the rules,” writes Eder, “and defied expectations.” 

Personal Favorites: Chapters 8 and 9.

Chapter 8 is Torchbearer of Freedom. It’s about Dame Mary Sigillo Barraco. Chapter 9, Love Conquers All, is about Berendina Diet Eman.

The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line is a fascinating and compelling account of some of the most courageous, creative, and resilient personalities from WWII whom you’ve probably never heard of. Most had to wait a half century or more until their remarkable contributions were recognized. 
We dove into this book with high hopes. It was disappointing.
We would’ve scored this book higher except it skids right off the rails in the closing chapters and it suffers from solidly mediocre writing. 
In the closing chapters the author gets painfully redundant, covering ground that’s already been covered. Over and over and over. (We got it the first time, okay? No need to beat us over the head with it.) It’s like the author doesn’t know when to wrap it up. The result is some truly cringeworthy and painfully overwritten concluding chapters.
Also, the author just can’t seem to resist launching into sermon mode toward the end, dragging her own personal politics into the book. And that’s too bad. Because the prior biographical material stands on its own, thank you very much. 
The writing is also formulaic. It’s as predictable as tomorrow’s sunrise. As dry as the Atacama Desert. Too bad again. Because these stories are inspirational and important. They matter. They’re also not “girls.” These women deserve a better vehicle.

Our Rating: 2.0


Book Beginnings is a theme where readers share the first sentence (or couple of sentences) from your current read. It’s hosted by Rose City Reader every Friday. The Friday 56 is hosted by Frida’s Voice. Share a sentence or two-ish from page 56 or 56% in to your current read.

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