What do you know about black American women in WWII? Probably as much as I did, and that wasn’t a lot. Award-winning Mare’s War, by Tanita S Davis, is about the women of the 6888th, the only Women’s Army Corps sent to Europe.
Mare arrived aged almost 17 – you had to be 20 to join up – from her small home town in Alabama, where being coloured was to be a second class citizen. She needed to escape her mother’s abusive boyfriend, and the WAC seemed like a different planet.
Much of the military training and the friendships formed, brought me straight back to Michael Grant’s Front Lines, but unlike his trilogy, these women were not armed and ‘all’ they did was deal with a serious backlog of military post, letters and parcels needed to lift morale among those fighting.
Telling her story to her two teenage granddaughters during a long drive across America, one hot summer, Mare shocks and surprises the girls with how it was, in what seems to be not all that long ago.
This is a fantastic book, which will entertain and educate at the same time. You might know more than Tali and Octavia do, and you might not find Mare as embarrassing as they do [at first], but you will love seeing what it was like for these pioneering women, and what they’ve become.
While seemingly a story about WWII, it is mostly about how far black women in America have come, even if it isn’t anywhere near far enough. At least Mare lived to see her granddaughters taking for granted a life she could never have imagined, and which wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for her flight away from the farm where she grew up.
Read this and be inspired.