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Mare's War Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 9, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Absolutely essential reading."
Top Customer Reviews
The two sister, Octavia and Talitha, squabble, fret, drag their feet, and send occassional postcards of complaint to friends and family (shown in the book, in a nicely light touch), but as the miles pass. and their grandmother's story unfolds, the tone of the postcard messages begin to change. Their grandmother's life as Marey Lee, an African American teenager in the Women's Army Corps has them fascinated. The friendships she made, the prejudice she encountered, and the historical pagent of which she was a part are spellbinding stuff. This is an eye-openingly powerful narrative that educates without didactism, filling a blank space in the history of World War II without ever loosing sight of Marey Lee, the girl.
It was a story that sure kept me enthralled (although I'm glad I didn't have to drive 2,340 miles from California to Alabama in summer with my sisters and grandmother to hear it).
Davis manages to make her teenagers in the present interesting people in their own right, and not just vessels created to receive Mare's story, but their sibling relationship and 21st century teenage angsts pall in comparison to what their grandmother went through (to give them credit, they relize this).Read more ›
The book alternates between "Now" sections in which Octavia and her petulant older sister are forced into an extended road trip with "Mare" , their grandmother, in order to go to some mysterious family reunion, and "Then" sections in which Mare reveals events of her childhood and how she ran away to serve in the Army without her mother's consent. Although annoyed with missing their summer, the girls get drawn into Mare's story despite themselves.
The "Then" sections are, in my opinion, the more vivid and engaging sections. Mare's narrative voice and dialect add life and humor to the story. Her sheer hard-headedness get her through her fear and enable her to do her duty with pride, even in the face of covert and overt racism. The "Now" sections primarily serve to frame Mare's story and wrap it up in a tidy package. As the story progresses, however, Octavia and Talitha develop and grow in a way that gives them importance in themselves.
There are some minor flaws with the book. I was somewhat bothered by the use of the present tense in Mare's story - after all, she is supposedly telling her granddaughters about events well in the past. I understand why Ms. Davis chose that route, however. Past-tense narration would not have the immediacy that's so engaging in Mare's story.Read more ›
Mare narrates two chapters (all entitled “then”) for every one that Octavia narrates (all entitled “now”) as they drive from California to Alabama with Octavia’s older sister, Tali. Along the way, Mare tells her granddaughters the story of how she came to enlist in the army during WWII, trained in the south, and served overseas in England and France. Mare’s story, which comprises the bulk of the novel, addresses a number of serious issues—attempted child sexual abuse, family strife, poverty, racial discrimination and inequality, lesbianism—as it highlights the numerous “wars” that Mare fought while growing up and serving in the Army in the 1940s. Along the way, Octavia and Tali come to appreciate their grandmother’s struggles and learn more about American history, all the while developing stronger familial bonds of their own with each other and with their grandmother.
The complementary narratives depict deeply contrasting stories of growing up as a Black woman during two different periods in American history. Educational without being pedantic, this novel serves as an entertaining way for adolescents to learn about and appreciate an often neglected aspect of American history.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I would highly recommend this book to be a part of any middle or high school library collection. Easy to lose oneself in Mare's story as I imagined Tali and Octavia must have done... Read morePublished 2 months ago by T. Snow
I liked the idea of talking about a part of history that is often ignored. More books should address women of color and their contributions to our nation. Read morePublished 9 months ago by RL Teach
The dialogue and voice in this book are simply amazing. For the first time in my life, I have actually considered writing fan mail to the author, it's that good. Ms. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Red
Well written for the teenager or adult. Brought back memories of my Army Life.
Told from a grandma's point of view to her young granddaughters on a long vacation they took.
I love books that kinda go back in time. At first I wasn't sure about this book, but once I started it got really interesting. I actually learned a few things about the war.Published on July 13, 2014 by Kindle Customer
In a humorous, brash amazing style, this writer speaks of a life charted out of the courage obtained from making that first step and doing Something ! Read morePublished on May 6, 2014 by Nora Queryous
This book may be a little difficult to follow but is a great read for bringing historical accuracy into an interesting fictional book. Read morePublished on November 26, 2012 by Monica Henriquez
Even though Mare's War is listed as a YA novel, I found it a very pleasant read. Marey escaped a bad home situation by joining the WAC and then years later she developed a... Read morePublished on October 3, 2012 by Bmat
This was a wonderful book. I loved the way that the chapters switched between the past and the present. Read morePublished on December 27, 2011 by Emily