Saturday, March 13, 2010
Mare's War (YA)
Mare's War. Tanita S. Davis. Random House. 352 pages.
It's just a sporty red car parked across our driveway, but when I see it, my stomach plummets. It's my grandmother.
Mare is no ordinary grandma, that's for sure! As her two granddaughters discover one summer when all three embark on a cross country road trip. There are rules to be decided; and compromises to be made. But in the end, it will be a summer the two sisters (Octavia and Tali) will never forget. (It will also be a healing summer for Mare.)
What makes this inter-generational book such a great read is that the narration is broken into 'then' and 'now' segments. As the two girls learn about their grandmother's not-so-tame past, readers learn first hand what America was like in the past. Things that they take for granted--have always taken for granted--were not so easy back in the day. There are a few scenes, for example, that really stand out in showing how far we've come. (The scene on the bus moved me. It was so emotional, but not overly done.)
But this isn't an issue book. Not really. The characters are too human for that for one thing. The two granddaughters have never given much thought to Mare's life, her history, her past, her story. They haven't thought about her as a person, a real person with hopes, dreams, disappointments, regrets, etc. Mare's broken home is haunting. As are her stories of joining the Women's Army Corps during World War II. And as these two teens learn to listen, really, truly listen, something significant, something personal happens. In some ways, this is a quiet book about families coming together--listening, loving, understanding, bonding. But it isn't a slow novel. Mare's story is compelling. I think the framework works well, helps keep history in context.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews