Twix Heaven and Earth
by Joann Klusmeyer
PageTurner Press and Media

"They were told it was a trick of the rivers and the echoes that the battle was so close, but that was hard to believe for the dozen young ladies from the American Prairie."

When Iota Redhawk's husband is killed with a flaming arrow, she must raise their two children alone. Lorraine dreams of working in medicine, while Vernon hopes to fly one of the big, fancy new flying machines. The outbreak of the Great War offers them both a chance to fulfill their aspirations. Nearing the age of eighteen, Vernon sets out for Europe on the side of the Allies, demonstrating an aptitude for flying aircraft. Lorraine follows shortly after that, enlisting in the Red Cross. The two are stationed not far from each other, in the vicinity of the strategic Belgian town of Ypres, which has been the site of intense fighting resulting in the loss of a million men. Before the war ends, their paths will converge in unexpected ways as they seek to prove their mettle in the furnace of conflict.

Klusmeyer's narrative is extensively researched, with much of the book devoted to explaining the logistics of war and the minutiae of working as a nurse or a fighter pilot. Lorraine and Vernon's efforts to survive are involving, although they disappear from the story for long stretches so that the narrator can contextualize the five battles of Ypres and the ensuing armistice. Often these historical tangents help to illuminate events taking place in the lives of the Redhawk siblings, though they also distract at times. The climax of the book is suitably dramatic, capably drawing together the major narrative strands amid fire and flaming debris as the war approaches its end.

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