Reviews for Mare's War

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Fall
Octavia and Talitha think they know all about their unconventional grandmother, Mare. However, a cross-country road trip reveals some surprises. In alternating chapters, Octavia narrates the present and Mare recounts her adventures in the Women's Army Corps during World War II. Mare's story is vivid and absorbing, and Davis's depiction of a lesser-known facet of African American history is enlightening. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 May #1
A summer road trip serves as frame for the story of Octavia and Tali's extraordinary grandmother. Born on a farm just before the Great Depression, Marey Lee Boyen dreams of getting herself and her younger sister Josephine as far away from Bay Slough, Ala., as possible--especially when their mother's boyfriend turns a lustful eye toward them both. After Josephine is sent away to Aunt Shirley in Philadelphia, Mare lies about her age and joins the Women's Army Corps at the height of World War II. As Octavia and Tali travel with Mare back home to Bay Slough, readers experience Pfc. Boyen's journey from basic training to extended field-service training, as she bonds with a remarkable group of young African-American women. Once her company, the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, ships out to Europe, Mare and her fellow GIs process mail for the front lines in England and France. The parallel travel narratives are masterfully managed, with postcards from Octavia and Tali to the folks back home in San Francisco signaling the shift between "then" and "now." Absolutely essential reading. (Historical fiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 July

Gr 7-10-On a parent-mandated cross-country road trip with Mere, their unpredictable grandmother, 15-year-old Octavia and 17-year-old Tali make the transformation from complaining, self-absorbed teens to observant, supportive family members. Mere promises not to smoke if the sisters promise not to use earphones on their way to a family reunion. And then she begins to tell her life story. As the miles pass from California across the southern states, the girls become intrigued with memories of Mere's harsh childhood of domestic work and her struggle to protect herself and younger sister from their widowed mother's lecherous boyfriend. Mere's account of her war years is full of historical detail and lively personal anecdotes about the training, treatment, duties, and social life in her African-American regiment of the Women's Army Corps both on assignment in the U.S. and in the European Theater during 1944 and 1945. Octavia and Tali write postcards home to family and friends revealing their adolescent reactions to what they see and hear. Their bickering subsides as they begin to understand the experiences, people, and decisions that shaped their grandmother and the family bond they all share. Told in alternating chapters of "Then" and "Now," this contemporary intergenerational story resounds with mutual exasperation, criticism, discovery, and humor. Octavia and Tali are believable and at times devious as they try to escape Mere's scrutiny. A steady travelogue, realistic banter, memorable characters, and moments of tension, insight, and understanding make this an appealing selection.-Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC

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VOYA Reviews 2009 June
During a road trip from California to Florida with their grandmother Mare, sisters Talitha and Octavia hear about Mare's extraordinary history. In 1944, at age seventeen, Mare ran away from her backwater Alabama town and joined the Women's Army Corps. After lying about her age and passing a written exam, Mare went on to become a member of the 6888th African American battalion. Through basic training, she gained physical and emotional strength. During the course of the war, she served in the United States, Scotland, and France. She tells her story through oral narrative and with letters she has written to her sister Although she does not glamorize any part of army life, Mare narrates both her good and bad times in the service. Mare is strong, stubborn, and self-reliant--traits the reader can see and admire in her granddaughters. Readers may be surprised to learn about the level of discrimination Mare faced for being a woman as well as African American, even in the armed forces. Davis gives both major and minor character very distinct traits, making them memorable. She also has an ear for dialect and the speech of the 1940s, although the modern dialogue feels stilted in places. By focusing on vivid characterizations rather than long descriptions, Davis creates a work of historical fiction that even non-historians can enjoy.--Carlisle K. Webbe PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-95714-7. 4Q 3P J S Copyright 2009 Voya Reviews.