During war, the one upshot (if there ever was one) is that with the men on the battlefield, women take on roles that otherwise would be denied to them.
Sisters in Arms: A Novel of the Daring Black Women Who Served During World War II, by Kaia Alderson, was published last year. As World War II rages on, the powers that be in the American military have opened the door for women to serve. Known as the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), these soldiers may not have been on the front lines, but their contributions cannot be ignored.
In the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, two young women have joined up. Grace Steele and Eliza Jones may come from the same part of the city, but that is the only thing they initially have in common. Grace is a musical prodigy whose career has been sidelined by a family tragedy. Eliza, who works for her father’s newspaper, wants to be a respected reporter. Instead, she is sidelined to beats that are “appropriate” for a female.
They are not only the first women to officially join the army, they are also among the first African-American women to sign up. After basic training, Grace and Eliza form and lead the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. On top of doing their jobs, they also have to deal with prejudice that comes with their gender and skin color.
When they are finally sent to Europe, Grace, Eliza, and the rest of their battalion are thrilled to finally be able to serve their nation, regardless of the danger.
I loved this book. I came into the book knowing that there were women in the military during the war. But my knowledge did not extend beyond that basic fact. After I finished it, I felt a sense of pride. We all know the promises that the country makes and the half-truths that are the day-to-day reality. But when we open the door to change, the ripples can be nothing short of world-changing.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Sisters in Arms: A Novel of the Daring Black Women Who Served During World War II is available wherever books are sold.
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