Author Kaia Alderson stumbled across a picture of the 6888th Postal Battalion marching in France and her novel, Sisters In Arms was born.
The novel, which NC native and NBA All-Star Stephen Curry chose as the book of the month in November for his Literati book club, is about the only all-Black female military unit shipped overseas in World War II.
Here’s what the book is about:
Grace Steele and Eliza Jones may be from completely different backgrounds, but when it comes to the army, specifically the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), they are both starting from the same level. Not only will they be among the first class of female officers the army has ever seen, they are also the first Black women allowed to serve.
As these courageous women help to form the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, they are dealing with more than just army bureaucracy—everyone is determined to see this experiment fail. For two northern women, learning to navigate their way through the segregated army may be tougher than boot camp. Grace and Eliza know that there is no room for error; they must be more perfect than everyone else.
When they finally make it overseas, to England and then France, Grace and Eliza will, at last, be able to do their parts for the country they love, whatever the risk to themselves.
Based on the true story of the 6888th Postal Battalion (the Six Triple Eight), Sisters in Arms explores the untold story of what life was like for the only all-Black, female US battalion to be deployed overseas during World War II.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, Alderson spoke to us about her debut historic novel.
Alderson said the picture she saw was the first time seeing Black women in a WWII-era photo dressed in military uniforms.
“I instantly knew I had to write a “soldier girl’s last night in town before shipping out” story,” she said. “These African-American women were successfully operating their own self-contained military unit overseas at the height of racial segregation. Dominant popular culture would have us believe that African-American women were either incapable of something like this or denied the opportunity to provide themselves in this way. And that just wasn’t true.”
Learn more about Alderson at www.kaiawrites.com.
While researching her novel, Alderson said she found a shining example of a woman marking her place in history.
“South Carolina native Lt. Colonel Charity Adams Earley was the commanding officer of the 6888th. She was a Major at the time. A general threatened to replace her with a white officer when she refused a command that would have unnecessarily disrupted their operation. She responded with “Over my dead body, sir” and got away with it. He later apologized and admitted that he had been in the wrong,” she said.
Alderson said Women’s History Month inspires us “to strive for heights that might otherwise seem unimaginable if not for the foundations laid by the women who came before us.”
Cheris Hodges can be reached at (910) 506-3169 or [email protected]