Good Night, Irene: Book summary and reviews of Good Night, Irene by Luis Alberto Urrea

Good Night, Irene

A Novel

by Luis Alberto Urrea

Good Night, Irene by Luis Alberto Urrea X
Good Night, Irene by Luis Alberto Urrea
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  • Published May 2023
    416 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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About this book

Book Summary

In the tradition of The Nightingale and Transcription, an exhilarating World War II epic that chronicles an extraordinary young woman's heroic frontline service in the Red Cross

In 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 buses 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 gallant 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).

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A moving and graceful tribute to friendship and to heroic women who have shouldered the burdens of war." ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[A] remarkable, elegantly written novel ... there's plenty of grit, detail, and twists that make for both a fine page-turner and an evocation of war's often cruel randomness. Top-shelf historical fiction delivered with wit and compassion." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"With cinematic verisimilitude and deep emotional understanding, Urrea opens readers' eyes to the female Red Cross volunteers who served overseas during WWII, delivering donuts, coffee, and homestyle friendliness to U.S. troops ... WWII fiction fans, who have an abundance of options, should embrace Urrea's vivid, hard-hitting novel about the valiant achievements of these unsung wartime heroines." ―Booklist

"Urrea bends a fertile bough from his own family tree in Good Night Irene, a sweeping novel loosely based on his mother's experiences as a plucky, rebellious Red Cross volunteer with the so-called Donut Dollies on the battlefields of WWII, and the love stories — both romantic and platonic — that followed her home." ―Entertainment Weekly

"Every once in a while the universe opens its heart and pulls out a book like this novel, gifting it to the cosmos. In Good Night, Irene, a new element has been created, and the literary world is reborn in the image of Luis Alberto Urrea. His voice comes alive on every page of this magnificent novel." ―Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of The Many Daughters of Afong Moy and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

"Good Night, Irene is a beautiful, heartfelt novel that celebrates the intense power and durability of female friendship while shining a light on one of the fascinating lost women's stories of World War II. Inspired by his own family history—and his mother's heroism as a Red Cross volunteer during the war—Luis Urrea has created an indelible portrait of women's courage under extreme adversity. Powerful, uplifting, and deeply personal, Good Night, Irene is a story of survival, camaraderie, and courage on the front line." ―Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Four Winds

"A heart-wrenching wartime drama, a rich portrait of friendship, and an exploration of the trials and triumphs of the human spirit, Good Night, Irene is historical fiction at its finest. Using the little-known true story of women who worked behind the front lines for the Red Cross during World War II, Luis Alberto Urrea weaves a novel about the enduring bonds, devastating losses, and heroism of ordinary people who put their lives on the line for freedom. This is a story that needed to be told and remembered." ―Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and The Exiles

This information about Good Night, Irene was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Luis Alberto Urrea Author Biography

photo: Joe Mazza Brave-Lux

Hailed by NPR as a "literary badass" and a "master storyteller with a rock and roll heart," Luis Alberto Urrea is a prolific and acclaimed writer who uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph.

A 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction and a Guggenheim fellow, Urrea is the critically acclaimed and best-selling author of 19 books, winning numerous awards for his poetry, fiction and essays. Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, Urrea is most recognized as a border writer, though he says, "I am more interested in bridges, not borders."

Urrea's book, Good Night, Irene, takes as inspiration his mother's own Red Cross service. With its affecting and uplifting portrait of friendship and valor in harrowing circumstances,...

... Full Biography
Author Interview
Link to Luis Alberto Urrea's Website

Name Pronunciation
Luis Alberto Urrea: oo-Ray-ah

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