Rave Reviews Log: Historical Fiction

May 09, 2009

Red Moon at Sharpsburg

By Rosemary Wells
Rating: 4 1/4 stars
Era: 1860's Virginia, Civil War

India Moody is a southern girl in the 1860's, glad that her beloved South has chosen to declare war and secede from the nasty, bullying Yankee states who want to change their way of life. The South is convinced in a few short months they will win the war. But when India's father joins the army, war suddenly seems a lot less glamorous, and even less so when their well-off neighbors, the Trimbles, lose a son to the cause. India gets to study with the Trimble's son, Emory, who has studied science and doctoring and is attempting to discover ways to conquer diseases with methods not yet embraced by American medicine. India's imagination catches fire under his tutelage and she dreams of attending Oberlin College in Ohio which accepts women. Her heart also catches fire with love for Emory. But then the war begins to take a heavy toll on her family as well as the Trimbles, and it seems to drag on forever. The people in the South begin to suffer cruelly with their crops burned and their Confederate money all but useless. India's firm belief in what the South is doing in this war is shaken to the core by what she witnesses and she learns a person has to stand up for what they believe is right, regardless of sides. This is a well-written, moving story about the dark side of war, deeply researched and compelling. Readers will come away with a stark picture of what the Civil War, and indeed, any war does to the people who have to live through it. An important and very well-told story, highly recommended.

May 04, 2009

White Sands, Red Menace

By Ellen Klages
Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Era: Post-WWII America

In this sequel to The Green Glass Sea, science nut Dewey is living with her friend Suze's family, the Gordons, after her father is killed. The whole group was working on the atomic bombs that were dropped in Japan and now that the war is over, Mr. Gordon brings the family to the town of Alamogordo, New Mexico to experiment on German V-2 rockets and see if they can be sent into space. Suze and Dewey try to settle into a new town, uncomfortable with how the world seems to be viewing atomic power as something to embrace, not as something that destroyed people and lives. And while tensions rise between Mr. and Mrs. Gordon and how they disagree about the atomic bomb and its ability to change the world, Suze and Dewey learn about prejuidice, romance and the meaning of family in this small New Mexican town. A slow-moving but involving story about an often overlooked time in American history.