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

Morrow. Aug. 2021. 400p. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9780062964588.
This historical novel follows two young Black women through their recruitment, enlistment, and service in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, later the Women’s Army Corps, during World War II. Grace, a headstrong pianist mourning the recent loss of her brother in battle, and Eliza, a spunky aspiring news reporter with overprotective parents, meet at a WAC recruitment center in New York City in 1942. Despite a few initial disagreements, the two women form a bond that will endure through their service, which takes them from Iowa to the Eastern Seaboard and, eventually, all the way to Europe. With the other Black WAC members, who made up only five percent of women in service during World War II, Grace and Eliza face segregation and prejudice in addition to the universal challenges of wartime. Alderson draws from the available historical information on Black WAC members to paint a full picture of these women’s experiences, and includes a robust reference section at the novel’s end. Many secondary characters are based on real people. This historical accuracy is, however, somewhat undermined with a generous dose of creative license. A few elements, including the women’s romantic interests and an improbable twist ending, feel unnecessary and out of place in the plot. While the novel is aimed at adults, teens will not struggle with its language or themes.
VERDICT This book provides an entertaining, informative look at underrepresented and underreported Black stories from World War II. The importance of its subject matter certainly outweighs some shortcomings in storytelling.

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