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LITA & JEAN  by Lita Tomas


Memoirs of Two Generations of Military Women

by Lita Tomas & Jean Marie McNamara

Pub Date: March 1st, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-64663-013-4
Publisher: Master Wings Publishing

A mother and daughter recount challenges they faced while serving the U.S. military.

Debut author Tomas was born on an U.S. Air Force base in Champaign, Illinois, in 1954, but it never occurred to her that she’d eventually pursue a career as a soldier. However, she writes that while she was a senior in high school, she was drugged and raped by a priest, which resulted in a pregnancy; her family blamed her for the assault, she says, and compelled her to marry him. He was a heavy drinker, prone to “explosive anger,” and she had two children with him, including McNamara, the co-author of this book. Tomas fled with her two girls, she says, after discovering child pornography in their home. She then divorced her husband and battled him for years in court for full custody of their children. Tomas found both a paycheck and refuge in the military; she joined the Air Force in 1976 and, due to her self-described “propensity for everything scientific,” became a mechanic. Over the course of this book, she recounts her impressive professional career, along with the challenges of balancing its demands with those of single motherhood, with a great deal of charm and anecdotal informality. Tomas’ daughter McNamara, who co-hosts a podcast with her, joined the military in 1991 as part of the Illinois National Guard, hoping to become a combat medic, but a terrible injury necessitated brain surgery, which led to a medical discharge. Both accounts are inspirational, as neither McNamara nor Tomas had easy lives, but they both managed to surmount extraordinary hurdles, and they manage to convey their experiences cheerfully with wit and verve. Tomas’ life, in particular, was remarkably eventful; at one point, she memorably recollects her brief experience as an escort, which led to an arrest. At times, however, both tales get mired in minutiae that are unlikely to sustain the interest of a wide readership, although the book will certainly appeal to those who know the authors well.

Two thoughtful life stories that are often compelling despite a tendency toward excessive detail.