"Sisters Octavia and Tali dread the road trip their parents are forcing them to take with their grandmother over the summer. After all, Mare isn't your typical grandmother. She drives a red sports car, wears stiletto heels, flippy wigs, and push-up bras, and insists that she's too young to be called Grandma. But somewhere on the road, Octavia and Tali discover there's more to Mare than what you see. She was once a willful teenager who escaped her less-than-perfect life in the Deep South and lied about her age to join the 6888th African American battalion of the Women's Army Corps during World War II.
Told in alternating chapters, half of them following Mare through her experiences as a WAC and half following Mare and her granddaughters on the road in the present day, Mare's War introduces us to a larger-than-life character who will stay with readers long after they have finished reading."
I LOVED this book. Loved it. The characterization was absolutely amazing, leaving me completely entranced in Mare's story, while also totally believing in Octavia and Tali's personalities, the way they react to some of the stories their grandmother tells, and their overall attitudes. Tanita S. Davis managed to create this amazing menagerie of women in this book, all of which leave lasting impressions.
I really enjoyed the alternating chapters, between then and now, and feel that was probably the best way to tell Mare's story. At times it got intense, so the "Now" chapters gave the reader a break from the seriousness of WWII and allowed some present day teenage whining to take its place.
The amount of knowledge I had on African American women in WWII was basically zilch before starting this YA novel and now, I'm itching to learn more. Mare's War is not just a fictional story, it's an educational journey filled with sadness, poverty, war, death, and hope. We aren't taught about this part of history in school, which is a complete disappointment, but the truth. Davis gives us a history lesson within a fabulous drama.
Beautifully written, I would hand this to any teen girl, enjoying a good piece of historical fiction. I can see those fans of Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith, which I loved earlier this year, really liking Mare's War as well. I hope you'll check this out and then hand it to some teens...it's definitely worth your time.
Thoughts on the cover:
It needs a bit of work. Not the most exciting thing to look at, that's for sure, leaving me wondering if it would be a first pick off a library shelf. The colors are very muted and pastel, and though the artwork is interesting and nicely done, it's not very attention-grabbing.
I read this one for the Cybil Awards.
Tanita S. Davis
Review copy received from publisher
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