Genre: Historical fiction
What did you like about the book? This book chronicles the lives of two young Union soldiers, Leander and Paul, during the Civil War. The author does an excellent job of making the two seem very human, and young readers should have no trouble relating to them. Paul harbors a secret which is revealed partway through the book which should surprise readers and definitely adds to the intrigue. Without being preachy, the book sends an excellent message about duty and honor. In addition, it clearly communicates the filth, disease and chaos of the Civil War. There are several plot twists and even a hint of romance, which should keep readers turning the pages, as well as a lengthy author’s note with photos at the end. This is especially helpful if readers want to know more about the Andersonville Prison and the tragic sinking of the steamboat Sultana, which claimed more lives than the sinking of the Titanic.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Despite short chapters and lots of action, the book’s pace was somewhat leisurely. I confess that I got impatient and skipped ahead to see what was going to happen before going back to read the middle chapters.
To whom would you recommend this book? Read-alikes? Recommend this book to young adults and mature tween readers. If they like it, encourage them to try the 1958 Newbery medal winner Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith. It gives a similar realistic account of the Civil War through the eyes of a teenage soldier.
Who should buy this book? Middle schools, high schools and public libraries. Adult Civil War buffs might also enjoy giving this one a try. Homeschoolers studying the Civil War might appreciate it too.
Where would you shelve it ? I’d lean towards young adult fiction but it could also be shelved in middle grade fiction.
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, if you are a lover of Civil War fiction. Otherwise, not necessarily.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Renée Wheeler, Leominster Public Library, Leominster, MA
Date of review: June 26, 2015