Review of ‘While My Heart Beats’ by Erin McKenzie
This is the story of Ellie, an upper-class volunteer, and Johanna, a working-class nurse, set during World War I. This lesbian opposites-attract story is one of forbidden love not only between two women but also from different social classes set in the midst of war.
Ellie is a strong and memorable character who defies the norm by leaving her luxurious life with her wealthy British family. Her mom’s only mission in life is to marry Ellie off to a proper British man, but Ellie goes against the family when she volunteers to help with the injured in the war. Ellie meets and falls in love with Johanna, a brilliant but stiff nurse who has barely any family. While at the beginning all the new volunteers feared Johanna, Ellie actually works very well with her, earning Johanna’s respect and dismissing all the stereotypes that Joanna had about wealthy British volunteers who were supposedly coming only for an adventure.
I so needed this book. Finally my reader’s block is cured! It has been such a long time since I got into a book this much. I was hooked from beginning to end.
Big disclaimer: this is NOT an easy read. It’s about the brutality of war and the author brilliantly makes you feel what the characters felt. The scenes were so well written that the emotions felt very real.
I loved both main characters. I think this was the big reason why I fell in love with this book. Two extremely strong women from different backgrounds but yet going through the same experience. What I loved about their relationship is that they complemented each other, and their love was so strong that I was rooting for them from beginning to end.
I loved how the author somehow managed to make this a happy story, with such a bloody, horrific, and scary setup. I totally recommend this book. My rating is 4.5 stars rounded up to 5.
I received an ARC for an honest review.