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Sisters in Arms: A Novel of the Daring Black Women Who Served During World War II Book Review

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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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, New York City

The Jeffersons Character Review: George Jefferson

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Jeffersons. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. The American dream is the ability to pull yourself and your family up by your bootstraps. But as we all know, that dream still does not apply to everyone. On The Jeffersons, the patriarch of the family, George Jefferson is not exactly humble.

Descending from sharecroppers, and growing in poverty during the Depression, George became a business owner. Opening a chain of dry cleaners, he was able to move his wife Louise (Isabel Sanford) and son Lionel (played by both Damon Evans and Mike Evans) from Harlem to Queens and then finally to the Upper East Side of Manhattan. There are some in his shoes who would be unassuming and appreciative. But not George.

Like his former neighbor, Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor), George is arrogant, full of it, and has certain ideas about certain people. Though underneath it all he is a loving and supportive husband and father, that is not the impression one gets upon meeting him for the first time. He takes pleasure in riling up his neighbors, Tom and Helen Willis (Franklin Cover and Roxie Roker), and their maid Florence Johnston (Marla Gibbs). His schemes to bring in more money usually ended up in failure, to be replaced with a new idea.

To sum it up: George Jefferson should be proud of his success. In his time, what he was able to achieve is nothing to sneeze at. But there is a thin line between pride and arrogance. That being said, the reason that audiences have loved this character for nearly fifty years is the duality of being a good spouse and parent and having a large ego. Balancing both aspects, George appeals to the audience in a way that not only breaks boundaries but reveals the human side to what could easily be a dislikable man.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, New York City, Television