The Second World War must be one of the most written about topics in history, but every so often a new angle on the conflict comes along and turns the tropes on its head. JUST ANOTHER GIRL ON THE ROAD is very much in that ballpark. Based in an authentic-feeling German-occupied rural France, our story centers around Katrinka, a young girl who finds herself horrendously abused and tortured by German troops, until she’s saved, fortuitously, by a behind-the-lines British unit.
She needed saving, but Katrinka, still a teenager, is no wallflower. She’d already kicked back hard against her captives, killing one, and she’s quickly incorporated into the British unit’s plans to disrupt German movements, and aid the French resistance. Her Portuguese sailor father–an emotional, but sometimes peripheral figure in her life–just so happens to be involved, too. Required to keep her cool as she breaks through checkpoints and reconnects with him, Katrinka suddenly finds herself an important figure in the fight back, a role riddled with danger, with the hidden, disruptive British unit quickly falling at the heart of her experience.
The war is in its latter years at the start of our tale, which kicks off in 1944, and S. Kensington’s book has a sense of tired normality, but also of dark desolation. Horrors are almost normalized in the characters’ eyes, with human resistance and sheer will to live at the very heart of the plot. There are some beautiful background spin offs, too, not entirely set in France, but also flitting sporadically across the globe in a multinational tale that brings Katrinka to her unlikely role alongside her new battled-hardened companions.
What this certainly isn’t is a primer on war. Instead, it’s a tale of a few distinct (and imagined, of course), moments that fit together in an emotional and at times oddly uplifting tale on pushing through the worst and achieving the most. The dialogue and character actions are wonderfully crafted, and the intense love stories that evolve around the lead character become as much a core part of the plot as the battles and the struggles. Expect twisting history, elation, sex, tension, and a genuine respect for the subject matter.
A deep, evocative read which examines perhaps the most commonly-explored area of modern history, JUST ANOTHER GIRL ON THE ROAD–inventive, finely-woven and captivating–manages to provide a fresh, colorful perspective, exploring the darkness and the, oddly, the light of World War II and its aftermath.
~James Hendicott for IndieReader