Sisters Tali and Octavia want to spend their summer break relaxing with friends. Instead, their parents are forcing them to take a road trip with their sports-car-driving, pushup-bra-wearing Grandma Mare to a family reunion in Alabama. Luckily, Mare knows a thing or two about willful teens, having been one herself: at age sixteen, she ran away from home to join the Women's Army Corps during World War II. As Mare's story unfolds, Tali and Octavia discover their family history and heritage-and a lot about themselves as well. A 2010 Coretta Scott King Honor Book.
JLG Release: Jul 2009
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Grades 10 & Up
Awards & Honors
2010 Coretta Scott King Honor Book; ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2010; Amelia Bloomer List 2010; NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2010, History/Life & Culture in the Americas
Praise & Reviews
Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:
Kirkus Reviews*, School Library Journal, Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
Junior Library Guild
Tali and Octavia’s road Mare’s War is a successful and unusual combination of road-trip comedy, family drama, and war novel. The book is told through alternating viewpoints: Octavia, the bookish and timid younger sister, narrates the present, while Mare’s voice leads the reader through her time in the WAC during World War II.
Tali and Octavia’s road trip with Mare starts creakily. Octavia is wary of Mare, who drives so erratically that Octavia worries, “My crazy grandmother is going to get us killed.” She also has trouble relating to sullen, dismissive Tali, who’d rather be flirting with boys back home than “babysitting” her younger sister. Once Mare starts sharing tales of her younger sister, Feen, and their childhood in Bay Slough, Alabama, the atmosphere in the car changes. Tali and Octavia are captivated.
Mare’s compelling recollections are the core of the book. Her escape into independence takes her all the way from Alabama to Iowa, from Scotland to England to France, and home again. Her honesty, clear-headedness, and loyalty earn her friends from all over the world, and the reader will find the trials of fellow soldiers Peaches, Ruby, and Annie to be as affecting as Mare’s own. Meanwhile, the racial tolerance that Mare finds in England raises her awareness of the unequal conditions she faces at home—and in the present reveals to Tali and Octavia how sheltered they’ve been. As the three travelers draw closer to their family reunion, Mare’s story manages to unite Tali and Octavia in the pride they feel for Mare, and reminds them how lucky they are to have been born at a time when their race won’t prevent them from seeing the world on their own terms.
5 1/2" x 8 1/4"
Level 4.9; Points: 12;
Scholastic Reading Counts
Level 5; Points: 20;
Potentially Sensitive Areas
Sexual themes, Sexual predators, Racial prejudice, Ethnic epithets, Underage drinking,
Grandparents, Cross-country trips, Sisters, Smoking, Negotiations, African Americans, Poverty, Prejudice, Jobs, Sexual predators, Storytelling, Driving, Self-defense, The Women's Army Corps, Enlistment, Army life, Taking a chance, Uniforms, Job skills, Public perception, Stereotypes, Social protest, Gas masks, Courage, Postcards, Segregation, Traveling by boat, The postal service, Troop morale, Boyfriends, V-1 Bombs, Military leave, Nightclubs, Marriage, Babies, Juneteenth, Emancipation Park, Houston, Texas, V-E Day, Sexual orientation, Going AWOL, Planning for the future, Coming home, Making peace, San Francisco, California, Cemeteries, Closure,