Mare's War by Tanita S. Davis
Meet Mare, a grandmother with flair and a fascinating past." Octavia and Tali are dreading 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 shoes, 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 African American battalion of the Women's Army Corps during World War II. Told in alternating chapters, half of which follow Mare through her experiences as a WAC member and half of which follow Mare and her granddaughters on the road in the present day.
I really enjoyed this book! The character were totally relatable and Mare is the coolest grandmother ever (don't call her that though!) The title of this blog post/review is kinda random, but reading this book made me think of my grandmother and how I haven't talked to her in forever. So I'm going to call her today! The title is a reminder that grandparents need love so call 'em up or hang out with them! They may actually have some cool/funny/interesting stories to share. That's one thing I learned from this book. You presume your grandparents haven't really lived life, they're just old. But they have stories too and while they may not be as interesting as Mare's (or may be even more interesting!), you never know unless you ask. So call/them or hang out and ask away!
First, Mare. I wish my grandmother was like her. It would be so cool to have a grandmother who wears stilettos, drives fast, has an interesting past, is sassy and stubborn. She sounds like quite a character and a lot of fun to be around. She's very laid-back, go with the flow which I think is nice. Although I wouldn't be thrilled if my grandmothers wore push-up bras and smoked. She was my favorite character in the whole book (although I wished she would have danced and hung out with more guys!). She was so brave and hardworking! Which leads me to the next thing...
The historical aspect of the book was really enlightening. Before reading this book, I knew absolutely nothing about the role of African American men and women in WWII (except from what I'd seen in Miracle of St. Anna which was more fiction than fact). The information was really interesting and I admired the black men and women who fought for the U.S. even though, the U.S. wasn't very appreciative. It would have been really hard for me to go to Paris, help fight to protect the U.S., see how kind and non-discriminatory the French people were and then go home. I probably would have stayed in Paris. The work of the WAC (Women's Army Corps) is something I intend on reading more about. Also, I'm going to find some WWII movies about black soldiers (I think Denzel was in one :D).
I also liked both sisters; Tali and Octavia. They were both a little annoying sometimes. Octavia because she was so timid, Tali because she was so rude and whiny. But I sympathized with Octavia's struggle with driving (I'm learning to drive too. And it's scary fun!). And I would be mad like Tali if I couldn't listen to my music. I also like how Tali was stubborn and didn't take no mess from anybody, like Mare.
The book was well written and held your attention. I couldn't put it down. I especially like how it alternated from WWII to the present day. Although sometimes I was so absorbed in the WWII stories, that I wanted to just skip the now chapters (but don't cuz those are good chapters too!)
If you like historical or realistic fiction, this is a must read! Actually I think everyone should read this, because we African American teens need to know all aspects of our history. I would say high schoolers and middle schoolers could and should read this book.