Cover Image: When We Had Wings

When We Had Wings

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Member Reviews

I enjoyed reading When We Had Wings by Ariel Lawhon, Kristina McMorris and Susan Meissner.  The characters in these stores will warm your hearts.  Happy Reading!
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**
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When we had wings, is one of those stories that you cannot identify what is real and what is fiction, this is one of those books that literally make you feel like you're watching a slow movie gathering the stories slowly unfolding each character story for you to feel and relive. 

When we had wings, is not only about war is about friendship and the value this has in such a terrible time when everybody is looking to save themselves and rarely have the time to see for others, this is the case of these three women who happened to meet at Manila, three nurses who helped many but suffered greatly with the lack of food and safety, but always trying to be there to help those in need. 

The only thing that I didn't really like about the story or the way it was written was it was way too slow, they describe every detail way too much and that kind of makes the story tedious, that's t only reason I gave this book 4 stars because I couldn't with the slowness of the words.

I really disliked the way they were treated by the Japanese, they didn't care about any convention agreement, or even if they were women, it was as if they were only an obstacle to remove from their war.

The story of three brave nurses during the worst moment in human history WWII, Eleanor, Penny, and Lita will suffer a lot but also will gain a lot during these hardships they gain true friendships that will lead them to save many, their bravery and courageous work did so much for the wounded. 

Definitely a great story and book to share and enjoy and feel the amazing friendship of these brave women. 

On a side note, I would definitely have loved it if I had the chance to hear the audio version of this book as I love Saskia Maarleveld her narration always gives so much to the story.

Thank you, NetGalley and Harper Muse for the advanced copy of When We Had Wings in exchange for my honest review.
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An absolutely brilliant story from start-to-finish.

I' wondered how jarring it would be as I knew each of the three characters was penned by a different author. But I think that contributed to the point-of-view each author presented. I know little about the plight of the those who were imprisoned in the Philippines. during WW2, but the graphic portrayals given provided a vivid picture of piece of history that I know was well-researched. 

I received the book in ebook form courtesy of NetGalley, but I so enjoyed it so much that I will be picking up a paperback version for a copy.
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This book was fantastic! I really enjoyed it and it kept me guessing throughout, which is difficult for most books to do. I felt like I connected with the characters and really enjoyed the plot!
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I chose this book as I enjoyed reading about wwII but i didn’t bank on the detail given regarding how the Japanese treated the p.o,w.’s.
It is based on the friendship of three nurses Penny who was an army nurse, Eleanor aNavy nurse and Letitia a civilian nurse.
As they are moved around camps, convent the details are fascinating.  
Personally I found it rather long, this in no way detracts from the factual side.
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I very much enjoyed this historical fiction novel based in the Phillipines during WWII.

Three nurses meet in Manila in 1941. They become fast friends. When the Japanese invade the Phillipines after Pearl Harbor, the nurses are separated and become the first female prisoners of war.

I have not read much about the war in the Phillipines, so what I read was new to me. The Japanese were very cruel to their captives. They starved the prisoners because they did not want to spend money on food. Worse still, they let Red Cross Care packages rot as a means of punishing the prisoners. Sadly, some of these prisoners were merchants from the US passing through Manila; they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The book is about cruelty during war but also about the friendships between U.S. Navy nurse Eleanor Lindstrom, U.S. Army nurse Penny Franklin, and Filipina nurse Lita Capel. Their care for each other and the travails they suffered touched me.

4 stars
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When We Had Wings by Kristina McMorris, Susan Meissner and Ariel Lawhon, was first announced, I knew I had to read it the moment it came out. This trio are among my favorite historical fiction novelists. And I can assure you, they did not disappoint.

I learned so much from this book. I had no idea about these nurses and their bravery as they were kept hostage during the war. I knew little about Japan’s role in trying to earn control of the Philippines. Did I miss this during history class? Or did these authors uncover a little-known fact about the war and bring it to the page. I suppose the latter. This is why I love historical fiction! 

The story was told in three distinctive POVs, each written by a different author. Each voice was unique and gave credibility to the characters. These women and men survived through crazy difficult conditions yet chose to make the best of it every single day. Themes of friendship, resilience and a touch of romance were threaded through the book.

This will make an awesome book club discussion pick.
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This was a very good story about the friendships formed during horrific events of WWII and the conditions that these women (and others) were forced to endure.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Harper Muse for this advanced readers copy.
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When We Had Wings delves into the unknown side of women in the world wars. Naval nurses in the Philippines during the height of POW camps. The three women, though very different, forge an unbreakable friendship that lasts for years, and through some of the darkest moments in history. 

This is an incredibly well researched novel, and the information was so neatly slotted into the story that I didn’t need to pause to look up any dates or Wikipedia pages. I do wish there had been a warning as there are very graphic scenes that I wasn’t entirely prepared for. 

I would recommend this to anyone who has read any sort of historical fiction set during WWII and is looking for another undiscovered woman in history. Thank you to Netgalley, Harper Muse and the authors for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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Historical fiction written by three capable authors, this novel flowed well and featured three strong female characters who each has an interesting story. Although some of the war scenes are hard to read, the subject matter is well-researched and important to remember. I thought the structure of the novel - using the friendship between the three women - was brilliant.
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Look, this is a hard book, I'm not going to sugar coat it. It gave me anxiety attacks, there were tears, and maybe a couple of smiles, but they were so early in the book, I don't remember. There are characters who make it, and some who don't. I wish they all made it, but that's not the nature of war.

I read this book in about a day, I couldn't help but chew through it. I didn't know much leading into this book about the occupation of the Philippines, but this book had me so anxious over the characters, I had to do some side research to see how much longer they had to hold out. 

Read this book. You won't regret it.
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When We Had Wings is a collaboration between three popular women’s fiction authors, one of whom (Kristina McMorris) has written several heartwarming WWII-set stories. That alone had me excited to read this novel and the fact that Susan Meissner, a personal favorite, is another contributor was the cherry on top for me. Perhaps my resultant expectations were too high but this book wound up being very disappointing.Eleanor Lindstrom needs to flee Minnesota. She’s fallen for a man whose heart belongs to another and now her only choice is to leave the country and start over, as one apparently does after such a mistake. When she becomes a Navy nurse and is transferred to Manila, she feels extremely lucky. Not only is she literally on an island paradise, she’s made two terrific new friends who have helped her (somewhat) recapture her joie de vivre.

Penny Franklin has suffered enough tragedy to last a lifetime. Joining the Army nursing corps is her chance to begin again and she is thrilled when she is transferred from her home state of Texas to beautiful Manila in the Philippines. She’s confident she can escape the pain of her past in the festive, lively atmosphere of the lovely island.

The loss of her parents had left Lita Capel, a beautiful Filipina, a virtual orphan. Becoming a nurse and working at a U.S. armed forces hospital is her ticket to a better life. Eventually, she’ll be able to join her sisters in the States, find a career path she enjoys more than her present one and perhaps even find love. For now, however, she is just glad to have good friends like Penny and Eleanor to help her get through the hard days until her dreams come true.

The Pacific Theater was supposed to be the safe, secure part of the war-torn world. The Americans had been confident their entrance into the conflict would ensure a swift Allied victory. As the old saying goes, pride often goes before the fall. Which is exactly what happens to the Philippines – U.S. armed forces find themselve forced first to retreat, then evacuate the islands as they fall into enemy (Japanese) hands, leaving many nurses, support personnel, civilians and troops behind.

I have to laud the authors for tackling what has now become a familiar time period in a fresh way. Most WWII tales concentrate either on the European front, primarily England and France, or on the ‘war at home’ in the U.S, so it’s nice to see a representation of the Pacific Theater. I also have to give full credit to their historical research; while I am by no means an expert on this subject, the information given in the text is plentiful and matches the non-fiction accounts I’ve read about this arena.

But while the location and historicity offer a chance for some rich storytelling, the authors have missed that opportunity. Instead of the past providing a lush, exciting backdrop for the tale, this reads like a treatise on the horrors and the atrocities of the war. Fictional narrative as well as character and relationship building are often brushed aside to make room for events and details of daily life that add little to the story except to remind readers of the violence and terrible conditions of PoW camps. The viewpoint of these events is also extremely myopic – the story is told very much from the American nurse/military viewpoint. Even Lita’s portion of the novel contains no uniquely Filipino perspective; we do see how the Japanese treated the island natives slightly better than European civilians and armed forces personnel, but never really explore what their lives were like. All we really observe (until close to the end) is Lita helping her American friends or being concerned with the Allied cause.

There are romances here but they are also subsumed by the detailed exploration of what is happening overall, as opposed to what is happening to the characters. The ladies spend very little time with the men they fall in love with and the guys are mere outlines rather than fully fleshed characters. In fairness, the three female leads aren’t much more than that themselves.

Another stumbling block is having the Filipina character be on “Lita time”. The early part of the story makes gentle mockery of the fact that Lita is always late. I expected this to become some sort of plot point – that her lateness saves her life or causes her to discover a big, important secret but instead it’s just dropped halfway through the narrative. Given that this particular critique is often lobbed at people of color in a racist manner, bringing it up and then doing absolutely nothing with it felt peculiar and frankly, made me uncomfortable enough that I thought it worth mentioning.

An additional irritant is how often the issue of bowing comes up in the story. In many cultures, even today, a light bob is seen as an act of courtesy, a deeper bow, a gesture of respect to someone in authority over you. The text makes it sound as though there is something inherently wrong with this custom.

One trigger warning – there are threats of rape and talk of exchanging sex for favors, which is pretty typical of a female-centric war tale. None of this is explored in detail.When We Had Wings reads like an odd amalgamation of real-life accounts of armed forces life in the occupied Philippines with some romance thrown in. It never really reads like women’s fiction and contains barely enough storyline to qualify for historical fiction. In spite of the unique subject matter, I can’t recommend this book.
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I have read tons of WWII historical fiction books, but I have never read anything quite like this book, which follows three young nurses serving with the American military  who become prisoners of war in the Philippines during the war.  We are first introduced to Elinor Lindstrom, a nurse from small town Minnesota, who joined the Navy Nurse Corp to escape a failed love interest back home.  Next, there is Lita Capel, a native of Manila, who becomes a nurse  with the American military after the sudden death of her mother.  Finally, Penny Franklin is an U.S. Army nurse struggling with her widowhood and strained relationship with her family.  

The book quickly moves from the vibrant days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the chaos that happens after, during the Japanese occupation of the country.   The women, in alternating chapters, experience the horrible effects of war, bombings, poor living conditions, stolen possessions and endless work in subpar conditions and limited resources.  The writing is vivid and powerful.  You will follow the women during moves to different camps and connection and disconnection from friends and lovers.   You see the women face the ever changing unknown with braveness and fortitude. 

Five stars for moving historical fiction.  Thank you Harper Muse and Netgalley for this early review copy.
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"When We Had Wings" deals with an interesting part of WWII history and I liked learning more about what these women went through, but the novel still left me rather disappointed: the characters were underdeveloped, the romantic subplots felt shoehorned in, and the ending was rather saccharine.
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Another great historical book written by not one but three awesome authors. Ariel Lawhon, Kristina McMorris, and Susan Meissner. All of these authors are good and together they are great. 

This book is set in the Philippines, 1941, during WW2. Three nurses met and become the very best of friends. They endure a lot and this book takes you into each of their lives. Eleanor Lindstrom is a US Navy nurse. Penny Franklin is a US Army nurse. Filipina nurse Lita Capel. They are all trying to escape something in their pasts. They feel as though they are in paradise. Until it's not longer that. When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor they know it's just a matter of time before the US strikes back and then their paradise will become a war zone. 

There is a lot to learn in this novel. A lot that I had no idea about. What these women go through is horrible. They help each other and the other nurses too. Each is strong in ways they didn't know they could be. There is not a lot about this part of the war so this book really brought to life things that needed to be written about. Things that I had no idea existed. The story pulls you in and keeps you wanting more. You will cringe and shed tears. It's so realistic and heartbreaking. The way these three authors pulled together to tell this is amazing. They are all such good authors alone yet together they have written a book that was a long time coming. History is something we all need to keep on the forefront of our minds so it can't be repeated. 

Thank you #NetGalley, #ArielLawhon, #KristinaMcMorris, #SusanMeissner and #HarperMuse for this ARC. This is my own true thoughts about this book.

5 huge stars and the highest recommendation. You have to read this one.
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The Philippines, 1941. When U.S. Navy nurse Eleanor Lindstrom, U.S. Army nurse Penny Franklin, and Filipina nurse Lita Capel forge a friendship at the Army Navy Club in Manila, they believe they’re living a paradise assignment. All three are seeking a way to escape their pasts, but soon the beauty and promise of their surroundings give way to the heavy mantle of war.

Caught in the crosshairs of a fight between the U.S. military and the Imperial Japanese Army for control of the Philippine Islands, the nurses are forced to serve under combat conditions and, ultimately, endure captivity as the first female prisoners of the Second World War. As their resiliency is tested in the face of squalid living arrangements, food shortages, and the enemy’s blatant disregard for the articles of the Geneva Convention, the women strive to keep their hope— and their fellow inmates—alive, though not without great cost. 

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for ARC, in exchange for an honest review* 
Something about World War I &II novels seems to draw me. Those types of books will have you reaching for tissues every time, yet you can’t seem to put the book down. When We Had Wings  was one of those books, a story I can still get out of my head. I love reading books that feature strong women and tell the story from multiple points of view—telling the story from numerous points of view, giving you a chance to know each of those characters better. For example, I loved reading Penny, Eleanor, and Lita’s stories; their emotions were so vivid that I could feel their fear, anger, and hope. On every single page, I found myself hoping that this war would end, for a chance for the three of them to be rescued. Even though I couldn’t begin to imagine what it must be like for them during the war, reading the book, I felt as if I was transported there, experiencing everything they were going through. 

When I came across the book on Netgalley, I felt that it would be a challenging novel to read. Yet, I wasn’t prepared how hard it was going to be. If it weren’t for all the testing and assignments at school the past few weeks, I would read it within the first week of starting the book. Multiple times I had to force myself to put the book down because I had school in the morning or had to study for a test. I couldn’t wait for a chance to pick up the book so I could see what would happen next. I wondered about the title when I first came across the book, but now it makes sense; it fits the story perfectly.   I have read a few books in these genres about strong women, but I haven’t read books about women like Penny, Eleanor, and Lita. I loved that despite what was happening and what they were dealing with, they were always there for each other, always thinking about one another. I loved that none of them gave up, even though I knew that sometimes it was hard not to give up. 

Penny, Eleanor, and Lita’s friendship are my favorite. Their friendship is the type of friendship that lasts a lifetime. The friendship between the three reminds me of one between me and some of my best friends. I did feel like the last couple of chapters of the book were a bit slow; it felt as if it dragged on a little, but I loved the rest of the book. I have read a few books by  Susan Meissner  and recently read one by Kristina McMorris but I haven’t read any by Ariel  Lawhon, but now that I have read this book, I am curious about rest of her works. I would highly recommend this book to any historical fiction fans. I hope that the three of them will write another book together.
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This story is a fictional telling of 3 friends who are nurses in WWII in Manila, but is based on the true stories of the "angels of Bataan". - the small but important group of nurses assigned to the area.  US Navy nurse Eleanor is running away from a failed romance at home; US Army nurse Penny wants more than a small-town life, and Lita, is a Filipina nurse trying to follow her sisters to the US.  Thinking they would enjoy working in paradise on the Philippine Islands, things quickly change as the war progresses and the Imperial Japanese Army takes control of the island.   As they are moved from place to place with less and less supplies and support, their stamina and devotion to their patients is admirable and inspirational.  A story of resilience and friendship, this novel sheds light on a little-known but important part of our history. Thanks to Netgalley for ARC of this book; all thoughts stated about are my own.
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I love historical fiction and I’m a nurse. I thought this was the perfect book for me. Unfortunately it was not. I was pretty bored right from the beginning. I never connected with any of the characters and couldn’t wait until I finished it. 
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book.
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Three nurses in 1941 Philippines become friends and stay in touch if possible during the Japanese occupation of the islands. Enduring horrific deprivation and torture, the friends suffer much under their captors, hoping against all odds to survive the war and continue that important friendship. Recommended reading.
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When We Had Wings
An amazing story of the war in Manila. Reasons for going off to war and returning, all different. A lot of research went into this book considered historical fiction.
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