book review: Mare’s War

Mare’s war by Tanita S. Davis

Alfred A. Knopf 2009

main character: Mare Boylin

imageDB.cgiOctavia and Talia are all set for summer vacation until their outrageous grandmother, Mare, comes to town and insists that the girls join her on a cross country road trip. The girls only know Mare through their parent’s eyes and they don’t look forward to spending the summer with her. What follows are alternating chapters, some told by Mare about her life as a WAC during WWII and others told by Octavia in the present. The girls come to admire their grandmothers sense of independence as well as her sense of commitment to her family and her country. Mare doesn’t live a wild a crazy life, just one where she is responsible first to herself, then others.

Writing such a book has to be tricky. Each story line must be dependent enough upon the other to build a compelling story. Davis skillfully links past to present as the girls begin to embrace their own sense of adventure as well as embrace a higher degree of respect for their grandmother.

Mare’s War brought to life the dedication of Black female soldiers whose sense of patriotism led them to volunteer to fight for a segregated army. Readers, through Mare, taste the freedom she feels as well as the regret at having to come home to racist attitudes she was able to leave behind. We also see the total devastation that swept across Europe while American land was safe.

Mare was such a dynamic, passionate woman. I kinda wish she’d had just one love affair. Rather than following this traditional path however, Davis gave us a woman who was able to define herself and find her own happiness on her own. What a role model for all of us!

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