Mare’s War

By Tanita S. Davis – Knopf, 2009

In this young adult novel, hard-to-impress teenagers Octavia and Tali take the road trip of a lifetime with their unconventional grandmother. The girls are as reluctant to go as Mare is to take them; the sisters don’t get along and they’re embarrassed by their grandmother. Yet as they head south to a family reunion, Mare’s stories slowly draw the teens off their phones. At their age, Mare was running from her Alabama home to join the African American Women’s Air Corps. It’s hard for the girls to picture their sassy, cigarette-wielding, stiletto-wearing grandmother as a fit, young recruit fighting in World War ll. Mare’s stories also illuminate other battles—against pervasive sexism and racism—that allow the girls to see their grandmother and their family history in a new light. This intergenerational tale could be a conversation starter for teens and their older relatives, particularly about how women and minorities have been portrayed throughout history and how far they have yet to go.