Friday, July 16, 2010

Review: Mare's War (Davis)

Title: Mare's War
Author: Tanita S. Davis
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Pages: 341
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Challenges: POC, Women Unbound, YA
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school's library
Summary (from the inside flap): Sisters Octabia 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 inists that she is 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. The book is 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.

Review: What a good read! If you enjoy historical fiction this book is for you. The story covers World War II, the Navajo code talkers (I could have sworn there was a mention of this, but 2 commenters say not so I delete this), what it was like for non-combatants in Europe, what it was like for women in WWII, what it was like for African American soldiers in WWII, life in the southern US for African Americans, and life in the US after WWII ended and the soldiers came home.

What makes this novel different from most historical fiction is that it is set in the present day, which I think makes it even more accessible for teenagers. We learn the historical fiction part as the grandmother tells her story to Octavia and Tia. In other words, you won't get bogged down in the historical fiction since there are breaks that bring the reader into the present day.

I also liked the relationship between the two sisters; it felt real and honest. They fought, they got along, they irritated each other, and more. And, if you read this blog enough, you know I like an Afterword that explains it all. Tanita Davis has a good one where she lists the books that helped her build the foundation of the novel and we get to find out what parts really did exist.

5 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'm so glad to read this review! I had wanted to read this but then lost my note (note pile rivals TBR pile) so this is a great reminder! I've seen nothing but good things about this book!

David T. Macknet said...

Umm... I think you've gotten this book mixed up with another, because Mare's War doesn't deal at all with the Navajo Code Talkers, nor with noncombatants. I agree, though, that it's a fabulous book!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Rhapsody--I know what you mean about the notes. A friend suggested I keep track of book ideas in my phone, but I am just not that organized somehow.

David--Mare talks about the Code Talkers while telling her story doesn't she? I just read Code Talkers so hope I didn't get that part confused. I'll go back and look. And, Mare was a noncombatant...she was in the army, but didn't fight.

MissAttitude said...

I'm going to start rereading this book for my blogoversary and I'm excited. I remember it was one of my favorite historical fiction reads of 2009. I'm 99% sure Mare was a noncombatant. She helped deliver mail and maybe nurse? The codetalker detail I don't rememeber. Have you seen the paperback cover? I'm not sure which I like better, I think this one. I actually didn't really like the modern setting as much, I wanted all Mare, all the time!

@Helen and rhapsody-I try to just reorganize my piles with books that I need to review at the top (by need I mean sent to me for review or recommended to me many times). But I almost always forget and just pick up a random book. haha

Helen's Book Blog said...

MissAttitude--Yes, Mare was in the army, but worked in the post office. Alright. I am going to remove the Code Talker part, but I could have sworn it was mentioned. Ugh.

Good idea about the physicality of the TBR pile. I now have a list going on my computer and I tend to list books I "need" to read near the top though they do get shuffled around