Heroism Begins with Her: Inspiring Stories of Bold, Brave, and Gutsy Women in the U.S. Military

Harper/HarperCollins/. Aug. 2019. 240p. bibliog. index. notes. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062847416.
Gr 7-10–Conkling engages readers from beginning to end with her collective biography that features women from each major military conflict in U.S. history. Each chapter begins with an essay, in which the author contextualizes the historical period and the war or wars prior to that section’s biographies. Conkling’s brief biographical sketches, accompanied by Kuo’s illustrated portraits, cover each woman’s early life, her military career, and her death (if applicable). Organized alphabetically by their last name, the profiles include women of color and Indigenous women. Conkling writes dignified profiles of each subject, from Harriet Tubman to Navy WAVES Harriet Pickens and Frances Wills, illuminating their determination in spite of the limitations they faced. Kuo’s illustrations, along with paintings, drawings, and photographs, fittingly align with the text. Back matter includes details about the branches of the military, rank for commissioned and non-commissioned officers by branch, and notable milestones for women in the military. Choppy sentences detract from the flow of a few profiles. The firsts achieved by the women can be hard for readers to conceptualize, considering that firsts occurred in all branches of the military.
VERDICT Conkling whets readers’ appetites to learn more about women and U.S. military history. This title is well suited for public and middle school libraries and could be paired with the young readers’ edition of Liza Mundy’s Code Girls or Ryan Ann Hunter’s In Disguise: Undercover with Real Women Spies

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