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Mare's War

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  488 ratings  ·  129 reviews
Meet Mare, a World War II veteran and a grandmother like no other. 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 African American Battalion of the Women's Army Corps. Now she is driving her granddaughters—two willful teenagers in their own rite—on a cross-country road trip. The girls are initiall ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 25th 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2009)
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Last Friday was WE AREN’T WORKING SO LET’S GO ON A DATE YAAAAAAY day, and Husband and I went to an air and space museum that I’d been eyeballing for years now but hadn’t ever managed to visit. It turned out to be an awesome museum—my husband didn’t understand why at one point I started shrieking about doodlebugs, but seriously, I have a much better handle of Rose Under Fire now that I’ve actually seen the damn drones she kept going on about.

And we got to fly in a fighter jet simulator machine!
So - another WWII novel - another Girl Book. This one is FANTASTIC. And you know what? It’s a Young Adult novel.

This is the story of a teen, Marey Lee Boylen, who joins the Women’s Army Corps and becomes one of the only group of American black women to be sent to Europe during the war. It’s framed as a road trip that Mare takes with her two teenaged granddaughters some 65 years later (ie, in the present day). So there’s a good amount of comparison between the journey of growth taken by all the y
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Amber Gibson for

Going on a road trip with their wacky grandmother, Mare, is not at all how either Octavia or Tali wants to spend their summer. However, at Mare's insistence, they reluctantly agree to accompany her all the way across the country for some mysterious family reunion in Alabama.

The girls don't know how they will survive all of this time cooped up together with each other and with Mare. Before they even leave the driveway, Mare is already driving Tali craz
I didn't know a thing about the Women's Army Corps in WWII, let alone the African-American units. Never fear, Mare told me all about it, in an extremely entertaining and honest voice that just makes you want to root for this girl who starts with nothing, and gains a whole new life in the Army.

Here's Mare's arrival to basic training in Des Moines:

"Can't see nothin' of Des Moines, 'cause it is pitch-dark and raining when we arrive. We stand around in the cold, waitin'. After a while, they send tru
I can sum up my feelings for this book thusly: Eh.

It's a light, easy read despite the occasionally heavy subject matter. However, the characterization didn't work for me. I didn't see the point in including snippets from the granddaughter's point of view. To me, they added nothing to the story and only distracted from the main narrative. Then, I grew bored quickly with the heroine because she doesn't change. She's a hardheaded take-charge person from the outset, and her army experience doesn't c
Carol Baldwin
Mare's War will appeal to several audiences: teenage girls who will identify with Octavia and Tali who are dragged on a road trip with their 80-year-old grandmother, Mare; African Americans who will appreciate the example of a strong female character in the Army during WWII; and teachers in 6th-9th grade who can use this book as a supplement to African American studies.

I liked it because of how the author, Tanita Davis, wove history and character education lessons into Mare’s interaction with h
This is a fun book so far but I can’t find it to finish it. I was really liking it and then lost my ARC?!

Spitfire grandma that served in WWII takes 2 typical upper middle class American teens on a road trip and tells about the realities of her past. She covers things like racism (they are black), homophobia, rape, poverty, intense family dynamics, etc. The girls and the grandma all learn are all learning more about each other but in a realistic not "road trip movie" way. I specifically love how
I read this book because I was leading a teen book discussion of Flygirl by Sherri Smith and I must say it's a great companion book. While Ida Mae Jones in Flygirl has to pass for white to join the WASP, the WACs had African-American units and they didn't stay stay side.

Mare's story of the WACs is embedded in a story of her, now an eccentric 80-year-old grandmother, going to Alabama for a reunion, but needing her granddaughters to help her drive. This is no Rules of the Road. They want to stay h
I went back & forth between giving this a 3 or a 4. In the end, I decided that the writing wasn't strong enough for a 3. It kind of made me wonder about the Coretta Scott King Award criteria, since this was the winner for text in 2010. It's a compelling story with a likeable heroine, and very good in the way the story moves from 1945 to 2009 (the heroine is going on a trip with her 2 granddaughters in present-day).

What I didn't like was how the author held back in sharing Mare's story after
So, more like 2.75. I couldn't get engaged with it as I wished but if I were a teen, I'd have loved it. I felt with this one like I did with Laurie Halse Anderson's "Chains" -- not enough patience as an adult but one in which I'd be utterly captivated when I was younger.

That said, I felt Mare's narrative was SO much more interesting than the kids. I also found a few weird editing issues while reading - I'd see missing articles here and there (pressed to find one now, I can't!). Nothing big but e
Sian Jones
There is so much I admire in this novel. Mare's voice is real and vivid (strong, strong prose, with human breath in it), and the history she narrates is fascinating and grounded so well in her personal struggles. I loved the details of Mare's life in Bay Slough, her service in the WAC, the routine and the uniforms and the complicated camaraderie with her fellow soldiers. Is it wrong to complain that it ended? Because I will. I will complain that it ended. I'd just like to request an entire book ...more
Tara Chevrestt
This is a fictional novel with fictional characters based on a real group of women, the 6888th African American Battalion of the Women's Army Corps. During world II, women gained their own army and because segregation was in effect in those days, African American women had their own battalion.

For full review and pictures of the 6888th, please click the link:
IndyPL Kids Book Blog
Teenage sisters Octavia and Tali can’t believe it when they find out they have to drive all the way across the United States with their crazy Grandmother for a family reunion. She drives slow. She’s nosy. She’s bossy. She smokes. And her car smells funny.

But these are all the things they know about their Grandmother. What they haven’t thought about is all the years their Grandmother was alive before they were even born. What was she like then? What did she do?

Once they start rolling and find hou
Brandy Painter
Originally posted here.

How much do you know about African American women serving in the Women's Army Corp during World War II? Or really the Women's Army Corp in general? I'm not going to lie despite taking two classes on the second world war in college my knowledge of both is pretty slim. In Mare's War Tanita Davis has given us a peak inside this small part of the fighting force and woven it into a greater story of family and relationship.

The story is told in alternating points of view jumping
Bronwyn Parhad
Octavia and Tali's parents make them take a road trip from their home in California to a reunion in Alabama, with their GRANDMOTHER. They try their best to get their parents to give up on this torturous summer activity, but to no avail. After all, Mare is over 80, drives a red coupe, smokes like a chimney and has a tale to tell. Mare was one of the first women to join the 688th African American Battalion of the Women's Army Corps. Mare's story is told in the "then" chapters, which alternate with ...more
E.D. Martin
When I saw this book, I thought it would be an interesting new perspective on WWII: a black woman serving in the Women's Army Corps (WAC). And while that part was interesting, it didn't have much depth to it. We didn't really feel the emotions Marey Lee should've experienced as a teen moving from backwater Alabama to basic training and across the Atlantic. Likewise, her fellow soldiers (of which there were many named, just enough to be difficult to keep track of) didn't move much beyond names ei ...more
Danielle Larca
Driving across the county with their cigarette-smoking, fast-driving, very unconventional grandmother, Mare is the last way Octavia and Talitha Boylen want to spend their summer vacation. But as Mare begins to tell them about her childhood and the forces that drove her into the Women’s Army Corps during WWII, Octavia and Tali come to a deeper understanding of their grandmother and themselves.

Alternating chapters break the story down between “now” and “then”, but Mare’s story is where this book
Not very often do you read a fiction book that teaches you historically accurate lessons that just beg for you to do some follow up research. This is one of those books.

Mare is an older woman with two young grand-daughters, Octavia and Tali, who seem to need a little bit of an education in what honor, courage, and strength is really about. Mare decides to take them on a cross-country trip to a secret reunion and along the way, she tells them about her past as a member of the only African-America
Octavia and Tali may not realize it yet, but Mare didn't used to be anybody's grandmother.

Spending the summer on a cross-country road trip in Mare's little red sports car should have made for the most boring summer of their lives. But both girls are in for a few surprises. Before this trip is over, Octavia and Tali are going to get a whole new perspective on their grandma, their own family, and their country.

Holy smokes, I could not have chosen a better book to kick off my BHM read
Karen Ball
2010 Coretta Scott King Honor Book
"Aunt Josephine always says that running away from home was the best thing Mare ever did. You grandmother changed the world."
Wish Goodreads had the image of the paperback cover -- I absolutely love it.
Tavia and Talia are trapped on a summer roadtrip with their 80-year-old grandmother, Marey Lee Boylen. Mare's not a typical grandma -- no knitting, canes or sensible shoes for her. She wears stiletto heels, drives a red sports car, does whatever she wants and says
Octavia and Tali, teenage sisters, are not excited about their plans for the summer: driving across the country from California to Alabama with their grandmother for a family reunion. Their sports-car-driving, high-heel-wearing grandmother, Mare, is unpredictable, and not at all like the average grandmother. However, as they travel across the country, making stops at random roadside attractions, Mare tells the girls about her life as a teenager, when she ran away from home and her job cleaning h ...more
Talitha and Octavia are not looking forward to their summer road trip with their grandmother. They are going to be traveling from California to Florida for a family reunion. Little do they know, but they are going to be also taking a trip back in time.

Their grandmother, Mare Boylen, decides to take the opportunity to share the story of what happened to her during World War II. While driving, Mare introduces Talitha and Octavia to a girl they never would have expected their grandmother to be.

In 1
BRMS MediaCenter
If a cross-country trek during summer vacation with grandma doesn’t sound interesting, guess again. In Tanita Davis’s novel Mare’s War, high school students (and sisters) Octavia and Tali embark on a road trip with their unconventional, stiletto-wearing grandmother, Mare, who reveals the story of the African Americans in the Women Army Corps during WWII. A captivating tale which seamlessly transitions between the past and present, Mare’s War reveals one of the lesser told stories of WWII, while ...more
I read this book for Battle of the Books and probably wouldn't have picked it up otherwise but it turned out to be very enjoyable. I really like historical novels, especially when they tell me stories that I havent heard before. In Mare's War, Mare is a black woman who joins the US Army during World War II and serves in England. But while I absolutely loved Mare's story, it was tied into a road trip with Mare's two granddaughters and I did not care about their story at all. It was anoth
In this novel, Octavia and Tali, two teenage sisters that spend more time arguing then talking, are sent on a road trip with their grandmother Mare. Now, Mare isn’t your stereotypical grandmother, she drives too fast, she smokes too much, and she dresses like she’s still in her 20’s. Octavia and Tali soon find, though, that there is a lot more to Mare then they had thought. The book is broken down into chapters told from Octavia’s perspective, little inserts of postcards that the girls send duri ...more
I was really excited to read this book, as it was a premise I haven't seen covered before in fiction - African-American WACs and their service during WWII. The book is nicely done, including a lot of information about the life of a WAC and also of African-Americans during that time period. It manages not to get too preachy MOST of the time, although it's obvious the author wants to educate her readers as much as the two grandkids in the story, especially during mentions of Claudette Colvin or Ju ...more
Jenn Estepp
There's lots I really enjoyed about this novel of two girls taking a road trip from California to Alabama with their grandmother, the titular Mare. And most of it centers on Mare herself - as the trip proceeds, she begins to tell the girls bits of her life story, leading up to when she ran away from home at seventeen to join the W.A.C. The book alternates between the contemporary/road trip action and historical scenes from Mare's life during World War II.

Without question, the historical story i
This is a relatively strong historical fiction choice for younger teens and advanced tweens. The book alternates between a road-trip that modern-day teens Tali and Octavia take with their spunky grandma Mare, to Mare's story as an underaged member of the African American Women's Army Corps during World War II. The parts in the past are a compelling look at two very influential yet little-known aspects of history - the Women's Army Corps and the African American Women's Army Corps. The book also ...more
While important and telling a story that is often overlooked, I kept wishing the writing was stronger and the plot more engaging. Very little happened, an unusual description for a war story. I found the two narratives to be entirely unnecessary. The modern portion of the story with the granddaughters could have left out entirely, and it would have been a better book. Overall, I am glad that I read this, but I don't imagine I will recommend it to anyone.
I love when I discover a story about a historical event that I've never heard of -especially when it sheds some light or further enriches the African American experience in this complicated country of ours. Mare's War artfully tells the story of female service people in WWII, and successfully incorporates all the many confusing, amazing, inspiring and heartbreaking facets of life. I hand it to the skill of the author that, while the book honors and encourages pride in African heritage women, it ...more
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