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Good Night, Irene
This “powerful, uplifting, and deeply personal novel” (Kristin Hannah, #1 NYT bestselling author of The Four Winds), at once “a heart-wrenching wartime drama” (Christina Baker Kline, #1 NYT bestselling author of Orphan Train) and “a moving and graceful tribute to heroic women” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), asks the question: What if a friendship forged on the front lines of war defines a life forever?
In the tradition of The Nightingale and Transcription, this is a searing epic based on the magnificent and true story of courageous Red Cross women.
“Urrea’s touch is sure, his exuberance carries you through . . . He is a generous writer, not just in his approach to his craft but in the broader sense of what he feels necessary to capture about life itself.” —Financial TimesIn 1943, Irene Woodward abandons an abusive fiancé in New York to enlist with the Red Cross and head to Europe. She makes fast friends in training with Dorothy Dunford, a towering Midwesterner with a ferocious wit. Together they are part of an elite group of women, nicknamed Donut Dollies, who command military vehicles called Clubmobiles at the front line, providing camaraderie and a taste of home that may be the only solace before troops head into battle.
After D-Day, these two intrepid friends join the Allied soldiers streaming into France. Their time in Europe will see them embroiled in danger, from the Battle of the Bulge to the liberation of Buchenwald. Through her friendship with Dorothy, and a love affair with a courageous American fighter pilot named Hans, Irene learns to trust again. Her most fervent hope, which becomes more precarious by the day, is for all three of them to survive the war intact.
Taking as inspiration his mother’s own Red Cross service, Luis Alberto Urrea has delivered an overlooked story of women’s heroism in World War II. With its affecting and uplifting portrait of friendship and valor in harrowing circumstances, Good Night, Irene powerfully demonstrates yet again that Urrea’s “gifts as a storyteller are prodigious” (NPR).
—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and The Exiles
“A moving and graceful tribute to friendship and to heroic women who have shouldered the burdens of war.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
—Ann Hood, New York Times bestselling author of The Knitting Circle
“This powerful novel will be with me forever . . .Urrea brilliantly explores the psychologically damaging effects of war even while he conveys how the days of two Red Cross volunteers become ordinary.”—Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books, Wichita, KS
“Beautiful, flowing language illustrates the bonds between women serving in a little-known capacity in the European theater of WWII . . . As rewarding as historical fiction gets.”—Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC
“Just when you think you have read all of the stories to come out of WWII, the brilliant Luis Alberto Urrea astounds you with this breathtaking and personal novel . . . Good Night, Irene captures every nuance of these heroic women and their battle-tested friendships in a sweeping novel full of heart and grace.”—Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
"A magnetic read . . .Urrea has crafted a masterful work of fiction drawn from his mother’s firsthand experience in the war. A love affair, friendship, and intense war scenes make this read impossible to put down. It serves as a reminder why we need to read historical fiction.”—Kathy Detwiler, Buttonwood Books, Cohasset, MA
“Thank you, Luis Alberto Urrea, for introducing me to another group of amazingly brave and overlooked women of WWII . . . A truly remarkable novel that I will recommend to anyone.”—Debbie White, Well-Read Moose, Coeur d’Alene, ID
“Urrea presents the story of a deep friendship in the midst of a war-torn Western Europe, images of combat that strangle the heart, and a love for life that warms it. Good Night, Irene is a wonder!”—Wendy Labinger, Prairie Lights Books, Iowa City, IA
“I cried at the end of this incredible novel, it is so good. And tells a story of stalwart, brave, ballsy women . . . Good Night, Irene is a spectacular novel of immense literary merit. I loved it.”—Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT
“I loved discovering a new area of WWII history . . . Good Night, Irene tells the story of two women facing the war and their fears, developing friendships in brutal conditions, discovering love in the midst of war, and seeing firsthand the horrors that mankind can create.”—Elizabeth Barnhill, Fabled Bookshop, Waco, TX
“Urrea never disappoints. This WWII historical novel is based on Urrea’s mother and her work with the American Red Cross during the war. His writing is beautiful and you will fall in love with Irene—her grit, determination, and strength.”—Annette Avery, Bright Side Bookshop, Flagstaff, AZ
“Great read with Urrea’s signature ear for unique, fast-paced dialogue. This lost slice of history in the well-worn tracks of WWII novels is fascinating!"—Nancy Shawn, Island Books, Mercer Island, WA