soup of the day: mare’s war!


These are probably not your mother’s stilettos.

But they could be your grandma’s!

Just ask Tali and Octavia, whose grandmother not only wears red stilettos, but drives a red sportscar, dons flippy wigs and push-up bras, has very strong opinions, and tells them about her very surprising history.

Woo Hoo! The day I’ve been waiting for all year long has finally arrived: official pub day for Mare’s War, a young adult novel written by the one and only Tanita S. Davis!!

*stilettos all over the world clicking together in celebration*

       MARE’S WAR by Tanita S. Davis,
       (Knopf, 2009), Young Adult Historical Fiction,
       Ages 12+, 352 pp.

Tanita’s first book, A La Carte (2008), was so thoroughly delicious that I can’t wait to read Mare’s War. Mare is the grandmother in question; Tali and Octavia’s summer plans are ruined when their parents force them to accompany Mare on a l-o-n-g cross-country road trip.

So, they set out from California Interstate 5,

photo by Super G

(leaving places like the Windmill at Pea Soup Andersen’s behind),

photo by busbozo

see all kinds of strange and wonderful things on the way, (like the world’s largest rose bush in Tombstone, Arizona),

photo by jennylou72

until they finally get to Florida, where a certain Mouse, some gators, dinner at an Aladdin-themed restaurant, and skydiving are involved.

photo by knight_0323

But what’s really eye-opening about this trip is what Tali and Octavia learn about Mare — that when she was just 17, she ran away from her not-so-perfect life in rural Alabama, lied about her age, and joined the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.  She in fact became a member of the 6888th African American Battalion, serving in the U.S., Scotland, and France.

First contingent of African American women, 6888th Battalion, inspected in England (1945).

Through chapters that alternate between Mare’s WWII experiences and the events of the road trip, readers will not only travel back in time for a rare glimpse of some of the first women (other than nurses) in the military, but will be privy to Octavia and Tali’s new understanding and appreciation for everything Mare overcame and endured. I am especially interested in learning more about the discrimination someone like Mare may have faced, not only because she was African American, but because she was a woman. It will be fascinating to see the strength, courage, determination and self-reliance she had to muster to serve her country.

Members of the 6888th march in parade honoring Joan D’Arc, France (1945).

Mare’s War is a Junior Library Guild Selection, and has been receiving glowing reviews. Colleen Mondor at Bookslut said, "It’s a cliché to say she brings history alive; the larger truth is that she makes it real. Set aside the textbooks and go driving with Mare and the girls; they’ll give you a ride into young adulthood you won’t soon forget."

Kirkus said, "the parallel travel narratives are masterfully managed, with postcards from Octavia and Tali to the folks back home in San Francisco signaling the shift between ‘then’ and ‘now.’ Absolutely essential reading."


Did you hear? Absolutely essential reading!! My mom also joined the Women’s Army Corps as a teenager in Hawai’i, so for me this is super triple absolutely essential reading. I will have to get her a copy for her birthday next month.

So now, help me congratulate Tanita on another fabulous book. Step into the alphabet soup mess hall, grab a big spoon, and slurp a rousing reveille! We stand at attention and salute you, Tanita!!

Today’s Special: Olive not-so-drab Soup (uniformly delicious)!

To go with your soup, enjoy this delicious bruschetta, made with some of the marvelous mozzarella Mare, Tali, and Octavia may have sampled in Roswell, New Mexico (largest producer of mozzarella in the U.S.).

photo by dinerjunkie

When you’re done chewing and swallowing, head on over to your local indie or click through to your fave online bookseller to score your very own copy of Mare’s War. There’s nothing like a good road trip to make your summer complete!

Be sure to check out Tanita’s official website and blog. She’s got some interesting reference notes and links all related to the novel, including stuff about the WAC, road trip highlights, and interesting tidbits. She’s also celebrating the launch of Mare’s War with signed copies and bookplates for the first five people who see the book in a store and send her photos. Visit her blog for more details!

Read my 2008 Interview with Tanita here.

Cool online review at Reading Rants is here.

More Soup of the Day posts here.

*Photos of 6888th African American Battalion from the National Archives. WAC uniform from DOD files and U.S. Army Center of Military History. Stilettos from Flannels Fashion photostream.


19 thoughts on “soup of the day: mare’s war!

  1. I’ll bet Tanita’s wearing a pair of pumps like that this morning, in celebration! Your posts are always so incredibly inspiring, Jama. Thanks!!!


  2. Tanita Says 🙂

    Thank you so much for celebrating with me!
    And I LOVE those shoes. I’d fall flat on my face if I walked two steps in them, but they’re sure PURTY!

    The Roswell/mozzarella connection still makes me just laugh right out loud. Aliens… cheese… it all goes…


  3. I So need this book. Was thinking NO WAY on my grandmothers and those shoes, but then I remember the stories about going to dances….and Grandma WAS only 5’2″, so she might very well have worn heals like that!


  4. Re: Tanita Says 🙂

    The Roswell cheese thing really is freaky! Maybe they don’t make mozzarella in outer space. 😀 Finally — a reason why all the aliens are visiting us.

    I really don’t know how women can wear stilettos. Mare seems to do alright, though . . .


  5. She used to go with her twin sister. If she danced with someone and they asked her if they could dance again later, she’d say yes. Then, if she hadn’t really liked him, when he came back, she’d say, “Oh, you must have been talking to my sister.”

    My nice, sweet grandmother! 🙂


  6. WAHOO!! Yay, Tanita! I wish I could make those in really big font. Maybe even a marquee tag.

    I can’t wait to read this, too. I’m finishing up A LA CARTE now. So good.

    What a fabulous post!


  7. Thank you!

    Thank you for a highly entertaining review, love the stiletto’s! Headed to buy this book over the weekend…….wow. Rasco from RIF


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