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Sisters in Arms by Kaia Alderson
Historical fiction

Sisters in Arms


We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Kaia Alderson, on your first book!

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by Kaia Alderson

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Quick take

Grace and Eliza are fire and ice. But when called to serve their country, they forge an unlikely bond and prove heroes.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SocialIssues

    Social issues

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FemaleFriendship

    Female friendships

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Underdog



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 even 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 U.S. battalion to be deployed overseas during World War II.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Sisters in Arms.
Sisters in Arms

Chapter 1

New York City, July 1942

"You can begin whenever you’re ready.”

Grace opened the folder that should have contained her sheet music. She would have cried had she been able to produce any more tears. She put the folder down and dug through her bag again. She found nothing else but her coin purse, her keys, and a letter she had grabbed from the mailbox on her way here.

“Is there a problem, Miss Steele?”

“I, uh . . .”

Grace Steele never left anything to chance. She always double-knotted her shoes. She always looked both ways before stepping off the curb to cross Lenox Avenue. She tuned in to her favorite radio show, Our Gal Sunday, five minutes early so she didn’t miss the beginning. And she never, ever waited until the last minute to put her sheet music into her bag.

But today wasn’t a normal day. And this wasn’t any ordinary gig. This was her audition to get into the Juilliard School of Music.

Grace glanced at her watch, a gift from her brother, Tony, during the last Christmas they had all spent together as a family before he enlisted in the Army.

“Now you have no excuse to not make time for your music,”

Tony had said, snatching a nearby pillow and using it to protect his face against Grace’s wrath. Unlucky for him, that position left his rib cage exposed. Grace landed an ineffective jab to his side. “Hey, is that any way to treat your favorite brother?”

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Why I love it

Sisters in Arms by Kaia Alderson is her debut historical novel based on actual events surrounding the formation and challenges of the only all-Black female battalion to serve in Europe during World War II. This book puts a long-overdue spotlight on the women of the U.S. Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC)—or Six Triple Eight, as they were called—who had to deal with racism, broken promises, and so much more, and I fell in love with each of these fabulous women from page one of Alderson's story.

Sisters in Arms begins with enlistment day in New York City and takes us on a journey from Fort Des Moines, Iowa, to England, France, and back home to New York by closely following two women from very different backgrounds, Grace and Eliza. The different reasons that caused them to enlist, how they dealt with prejudice while serving their country, and how the bond between them developed and then threatened to tear them apart make this such a moving and complex tale.

This is a big story with wonderfully written Black women soldiers who are complicated, heroic, smart, sassy, flawed, and wise. It's the kind of historical fiction I love. The characters are authentic, the story heartfelt. And imagine, these women hung onto their patriotism despite the people and the government that didn't support them. Inspirational, you bet. In her debut, Alderson delivers a must-read you won't forget.

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Member ratings (7,063)

  • Ashley G.


    Originally thinking this was going to be a sappy “yay girl power but also friends!” book was a mistake. Powerful and determined friends, these two undergo battles I wouldn’t have imagined prior. Read!

  • Barbara S.

    Pullman, WA

    I can’t believe this is the author’s first novel, it’s well-written and so well done that you can see yourself in the story as one of the characters, especially Grace or Eliza. I highly recommend it.

  • Brittany K.

    Wilmington, DE

    What an extremely well-written book! Kaia’s ability to paint pictures in your mind as you read this novel is outstanding. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading - I needed to see what happened.

  • Alicia M.

    Briarcliff Manor, NY

    Loved this one. Enjoyed the characters, their development, and the storyline. Not particularly complicated—you can see most things coming way ahead of time, but it was a fun, fast, and enjoyable read.

  • Melissa D.

    Ripon, WI

    A great book! As a fan of historical fiction, reading about black women in WWII was a great perspective. I didn’t even know there were all black female regiments in WWII. Couldn’t put the book down!

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